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Pain Research and Management
Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 13-18

Research Paradigms in Psychosomatic Medicine with Special Emphasis on Whiplash - Cervical Hyperextension Flexion Injury (CHFI)

Harold Merskey

University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2003 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.


There have been a number of attempts, particularly in the last five decades to understand the origins of pain in terms of psychological or psychosomatic patterns. These include psychoanalytic explanations relying on hysterical mechanisms, and psychophysiological proposals. The occurrence of pain in the course of psychiatric illness and its remission after the illness, has long been known and is not a controversial issue. However, the reported explanations of pain without overt and obvious prior psychiatric illness have largely failed to convince a significant portion of the professional establishment. These explanations have very often coincided with the interests of insurance companies, whether those insurance companies were providing medical benefits, disability insurance or workers' or accident compensation. Critical examination of the evidence generated by insurance company related research indicates profound weaknesses in it.