Pain, Affect, and Attachment

<p>Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center, Albert Ludwigs University, Freiburg, Germany</p>

Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center, Albert Ludwigs University, Freiburg, Germany


Various psychodynamic processes may underlie the development of psychogenic pain disorder such as conversion, the displacement of affect, or narcissistic defenses. However, many of the processes suggested are related to a disorder of affect regulation. The term affect regulation in psychoanalytic literature refers to phenomena which are often described by the concept of alexithymia. Empirical observations suggest that alexithymia is correlated to insecure attachment, especially an insecure dismissing representation of attachment. Psychodynamic psychotherapy in psychogenic pain disorder should focus on the reintegration of split-off affects which may provoke intensive counter-transference and which in order to be used therapeutically must be linked to attachment experiences within and outside of the therapeutic relationship.


  • Psychogenic pain disorder
  • Affect regulation
  • Alexithymia
  • Insecure attachment

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