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Losing face: Sources of stigma as perceived by chronic facial pain patients


The purpose of this paper is to identify potential sources of estrangement and feeling psychologically flawed as perceived by temporomandibular pain and dysfunction syndrome (TMPDS) patients. It is our hypothesis that a primary source of patients' perceived stigma results from pejorative labeling by clinicians. The data come from a study of 151 women TMPDS patients. The results show that the lack of a known etiology or pathogenesis for the condition allows the possibility of pejorative labeling by influential others such as physicians and dentists that in turn causes TMPDS sufferers to feel stigmatized. Stigmatization is not the result of clinical factors per seor personality problems. Perceived stigma associated with TMPDS leads to the same sorts of strained interactions and feeling estranged that have been shown to be typical of people with other stigmatized conditions. These strains and feelings in turn may contribute to ill health.

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Correspondence to Joseph J. Marbach.

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Marbach, J.J., Lennon, M.C., Link, B.G. et al. Losing face: Sources of stigma as perceived by chronic facial pain patients. J Behav Med 13, 583–604 (1990).

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Key words

  • temporomandibular pain dysfunction
  • facial pain
  • social stigma