Pain Research and Management

Pain Research and Management / 2000 / Article

Tribute to Ronald Melzack | Open Access

Volume 5 |Article ID 701397 |

Lucia Gagliese, Joel Katz, "Medically Unexplained Pain Is Not Caused by Psychopathology", Pain Research and Management, vol. 5, Article ID 701397, 7 pages, 2000.

Medically Unexplained Pain Is Not Caused by Psychopathology


This paper highlights Professor Ronald Melzack's theoretical contributions to the understanding of psychological factors in pain. His work continues to have profound influences on pain theory, research, management and public policy. His ideas have been pivotal to the acceptance of the role of the brain and psychological factors in the experience of pain. This article briefly outlines the prevailing theories of the psychology of pain before the gate-control theory. Melzack's contributions argue against the simplistic linear thinking inherent in specificity theory, which leads to the attribution of pain to either 'organic' or 'psychogenic' causes. Nevertheless, Cartesian dualism continues to thrive. The authors illustrate the nature and extent to which dualistic thinking pervades the field, show that a dualistic conceptualization of pain introduces an element of distrust to the relationship between patient and health professional, and conclude that the available data fail to reach today's standards for an evidence-based approach to pain. The authors believe that medically unexplained pain is not a symptom of a psychological disorder and that it is time to abandon the thinking that separates mind and body. The challenge remains for proponents to provide the empirical evidence to prove that psychopathology causes pain and, in so doing, to specify the mechanisms by which it is generated.

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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