The Anger of Pain Sufferers: Attributions to Agents and Appraisals of Wrongdoings



In this chapter, anger is viewed as a major element in the affective component of pain. How this anger comes about is a matter of some debate. While it has been speculated that pain and anger are hardwired, our critical analysis of the evidence raises several definitional problems and alternative interpretations. Even sudden noxious stimuli are subject to information processing in a variety of ways including “personification.” In the more common and pervasive case of chronic pain, it is evident that pain does not occur in a vacuum but exerts far-reaching effects on occupational, recreational, social, interpersonal, and self-care functions. These become the material for appraisals of wrongdoing and attributions of anger. The many targets of this anger are surveyed, including health-care providers, mental health professionals, insurance carriers, and even significant others. Apart from such anger as an appraised consequence of pain, other possible interactions between the two are outlined. As explained, anger may also function as a predisposing factor, a precipitant, an exacerbating factor, and a perpetuating factor in pain. This framework accounts for the many complex and diverse interactions between pain and anger and also directs us to different pathways to the alleviation of pain and anger in populations with medical ailments.


Chronic Pain Mental Health Professional Pain Patient Interactive Voice Response Chronic Pain Patient 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Anesthesia & PsychiatryHarvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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