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McKernan, L.C. Finn, M.T. Carr, E.R. (2017). Personality and Affect When the Central Nervous System is Sensitized: An Analysis of Central Sensitization Syndromes in a Substance Use Disorder Population. Psychodyn. Psych., 45(3):385-409.

(2017). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 45(3):385-409

Personality and Affect When the Central Nervous System is Sensitized: An Analysis of Central Sensitization Syndromes in a Substance Use Disorder Population

Lindsey C. McKernan, Ph.D., Michael T. M. Finn, B.A and Erika R. Carr, Ph.D.

Functional somatic syndromes, or more recently termed central sensitivity syndromes (CSS), comprise a significant portion of the chronic pain population. Although it is evident that personality is intricately related to the pain experience, it has not been widely studied. This article examines the impact of CSS on the clinical presentation of individuals presenting to treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD), with an emphasis on personality and emotional functioning. We examined personality profiles of individuals presenting to treatment with SUD between three groups: those with a CSS (n = 30), non-CSS chronic pain (n = 79), and no pain (n = 232). Based on previous research and a psychodynamic conceptualization of CSS, we hypothesized that predictors of the presence of a CSS in this sample would be higher rates of overall anxiety, traumatic stress, perfectionistic traits, and a need for interpersonal closeness. Logistic regression analyses did not support our hypothesis. Exploratory analyses indicated which personality traits most strongly predicted the presence of CSS. We discuss these findings using descriptive psychopathology literature, with recommendations for future research.

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