Outline Theories about the Experience of Pain
Pain has been experienced by everyone regardless of age, gender or economic status.
Pain is usually described as unfavorable experience that has a lasting emotional and
disabling influence on the individual. Theories that explain and assist in
understanding what pain is, how it originates and why we feel it are the Specificity
theory, Pattern Theory and Gate theory. In this paper I will attempt to demonstrate my
understanding of the theories and also will be critically analyzing the theories about
the experience of pain by incorporating relevant concepts from literature and relating
it to psychology.
Pain has been described with a wide range of different words. McCaffery (cited in
Adams and Bromley, p192, 1998 ) simply states that the experience of pain as being
"what the experiencing person says it is, existing when he says it does". This
definition by McCaffery strongly indicates that pain is conceived and experienced
differently in an individualized manner .McCafferys's definition of pain suggests
experiences of pain depends only on the person experiencing the pain and that no
other person is fully capable to understand how he/she may be feeling as the result of
pain. McCaffery does not actually state in his definition what pain is and what causes
the discomfort, how and why pain arises(Adams and Bromley,1998). Bond (1984)
describes pain as being a personal and unique experience which arises in the brain
due to injury to the body tissue, disease or due to biochemical changes in our bodies.
There are two main types of pain, acute and chronic. Acute pain is experienced for a
short time and usually has a specific cause and purpose such as injury to body tissue
(Adams and Bromley, 1998). Acute pain can be treated using drugs such as aspirin or
other method of pain relieve. Chronic pain has no time limit therefore, can last for
months and years, and serves no obvious biological purpose. Chronic pain can have a
significant impact on the quality of person's life as chronic pain can trigger
psychological as well as physical and emotional problems that leads to feelings of
helplessness and hopelessness as most chronic pain can not be cured (Goleman and
Pain theories that I will discussing in this paper are specificity , pattern and gate
control theory as these are the major theories that assist in explaining the concepts of
pain . The modern perspective sees the concept of pain from a view that includes
psychological factors but the earlier theories such as Specificity theory and Pattern
theory were more focused on tissue damage as the cause of pain.
The Specificity theory was originated in Greece .This theory was highlighted by
Descartes in 1664 who expressed that the pain system as being like a "bell - ringing
mechanism in a church"(Melzack and Wall , p196,1984) .Descartes (cited in Melzack
and Wall ,1984) explained that when...