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Purser, G.S. (2017). Insecure Attachment as a Risk Factor for Developing Chronic Pain, Somatisation and Supportive Interventions. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 11(3):vii-ix.

(2017). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 11(3):vii-ix


Insecure Attachment as a Risk Factor for Developing Chronic Pain, Somatisation and Supportive Interventions

Gülcan Sutton Purser

This issue is dedicated to the theme of pain. By giving it this attention, we aim to explore the relationship between the body, the mind, and the impact that the therapeutic relationship has on our clients’ healing process as a whole. All the articles have been written by internationally known professionals who are approaching this from different dimensions, but are looking at the way the therapeutic dyad plays a significant role in the clients’ symptom reductions and general well-being.

Orit Badouk Epstein

Eric is a forty-eight-year-old man, with very early stages of emphysema, due to smoking. He feels this painful ball constantly on his chest as he struggles to breathe through his mouth. The more anxious and fearful he feels, the worse his condition seems to get. For Eric, life becomes about being preoccupied with his pain, and yearning for the time he once was different.

Pain is a multidimensional phenomenon, affected by psychosocial, psychological, and biological factors. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defined pain as an unpleasant sensation and an emotional experience associated with a real or potential damage to tissue, or the equivalent of such damage.

Different studies have proposed alternative models for attachment on chronic pain, but all underlined the role of insecure attachment as the greatest risk factor for developing chronic pain, characterised by clinging, complaining, depression, anxiety, and help-seeking: just like the characteristics of the insecure attachment of childhood. Eric constantly visits his GP, at the same time not trusting his opinion, and constantly catastrophising his pain.

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