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Psychogenic Pain: Is It a Useful Concept? 

Psychogenic Pain: Is It a Useful Concept?
Psychogenic Pain: Is It a Useful Concept?
Pain: Dynamics and Complexities

Daniel M. Doleys


The implication and importance of clarifying the term ‘psychogenic’ is detailed. The origin of the term psychogenic and its relationship to Freudian theory, the writings of Engel, DSM, and contemporary definitions of pain are summarized. Mersky and Bogduk stated that “… activity induced in the nociceptor and the nociceptive pathways by a noxious stimulus is not pain, which is ALWAYS (caps are the author’s) a psychological state even though we may well appreciate that pain most often has a proximate physical cause” provides the basis for drawing a distinction between nociceptive and ‘pain’ generators. Data illustrating the fashion is which the experience of ‘pain’ can occur and be enhanced or diminished by psychological variables is presented. The changes brought about by DSM-V may help, but the concern over linking the responses to chronic pain to a ‘mental-illness’ remain. The author recommends discontinuation of the use of the term ‘psychogenic pain’.

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