Chronic pain and the adaptive significance of positive emotions

Am Psychol. 2015 Apr;70(3):283-4. doi: 10.1037/a0038816.


The February-March 2014 special issue of the American Psychologist featured articles summarizing select contributions from the field of psychology to the assessment and treatment of chronic pain. The articles examined a range of psychosocial and family factors that influence individual adjustment and contribute to disparities in pain care. The reviews also considered the psychological correlates and neurophysiological mechanisms of specific pain treatments, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnosis, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness, and meditation. Although a number of articles emphasized the role that negative states of mind play in pain outcomes, positive emotions were given only brief mention. Here, we provide a rationale for the inclusion of positive emotions in chronic pain research.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans