Home > Free Essays > Psychology > Cognition and Perception > The Psychological Perceptions of Pain

The Psychological Perceptions of Pain Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Jan 13th, 2022


Scientists have been researching for many years with a view of establishing the possible ways of making the human body function well despite the many challenges facing it. Medical practitioners have for a long time managed to treat diseases that threaten the existence of human beings, thanks to the results of the efforts of researchers. Psychology is a branch of science that deals with the study of the human brain concerning the environment. Pain is one of the greatest experiences that human beings go through in their daily routines and wish there was an easy way of getting rid of it. This essay outlines the emotional and motivational perceptions and sensations of pain and how they influence human psychology.

Main Discussion

Pain is described as an unpleasant feeling triggered by injury, pressure or damage of the body tissue. This is detected by the Sensory Nervous System via the sensory nerves located at the skin. These nerves have receptor cells that transmit the pain from the skin to the brain through a network of sensory tissues. This eventually activates the brain to take the necessary precautionary measures that result in certain actions by the body. The response by the brain is usually stimulated in two possible ways (James, p. 27). The first way is through the biological stimulation that is automatic and subconsciously controlled by the brain and it involves the Central Nervous System (brain, spinal cord and sensory organs).

The other means by which the nervous system is stimulated is through the psychological aspects of human life. They are voluntarily stimulated by the brain as a result of human interactions with the environment. The major factors include experience, personality, expectations and the mood of the participants. These factors prove that the brain can produce pain and stimulate the necessary actions.

Past experiences usually constitute the bulk of the memory and knowledge of people concerning events and so people can form judgments based on them. When a person sees an object falling and has no way of avoiding it the brain remembers the experience and the damage caused by such objects (Freud, p. 43). The person will then scream long before being hit as the brain will have already communicated the message. This is evidence that the whole process of the Central Nervous System was complete even before the actual pain was felt. When something happens which we already have a presumption on it we tend to have a certain fixed expectation that directs the Central Nervous System to send messages to the brain for necessary actions to be taken (Myers, p. 53). When a person goes for medication and the doctor needs to diagnose the patient, blood samples are taken for a laboratory test. Individuals sitting at the patients’ chair waiting for this session usually have their bodies prepared to feel the pain of the injection since they already expected it to be painful.

People have different levels of tolerance to pain and injuries. Some will get major injuries yet feel minor pain while others may experience a minor pain that will be reflected by the brain as a very large injury. For instance, children will perceive any slight bruises as very painful while adults will not even pay attention to them (Nevid, p. 16). People have diverse mood levels that are influenced by daily activities. Mood regulates how the message will be delivered to the brain for example; a person who is in good mood will not perceive an injury with a greater degree of pain like a moody person. In a wild party, individuals will not notice any minor injuries and it may take long before they begin to feel the pain while in a mourning session it is easy to feel deep pain when someone steps on a person’s shoe.

There are several theories advanced to explain the psychological perception of pain. One of these theories is the ancient Greeks’ theory of ‘Evil Spirits’ where Aristotle and his followers believed that pain entered the human body as a result of evil spirits due to the evils committed by the victim. On the other hand, Hippocrates assumed that pain was felt due to an imbalance of fluids in the human body that resulted in unpleasant feelings. Another theory was advanced by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Walls and was referred to as ‘The Gate Control Theory’ of 1965 which stated that there is an entrance that determines which pain goes to the brain and which one does not (Pyle, p. 78). This gate is a network of neurons located in the entrance to the spinal cord with two types of nerve threads. The large nerve threads send very faster signals to the brain while the small threads send slower messages. The factors discussed above influence the opening and closing of the ‘Gate’ to allow messages to be sent to the brain or block them. The main contradiction of this theory is that pain killers released by the body when people feel pain are capable of controlling messages being transmitted to the brain and not the ‘Gate’ described by this theory.

Pain can be psychologically handled through having self-assurance and consolation that involves the assurance that the pain will soon go off and the person will feel better. The brain interprets the pain as short-lived and so the timing or duration of pain is established (Freud, p. 41). After such a period ends the brain automatically directs the body to stop feeling pain and the person will no longer feel it. Family members, friends and relatives can also help reduce the pain individuals feel through emotional support and consolations that feeling pain is universal and people must experience it at one time or another. This assurance will eventually help the individual to perceive pain as universal and inevitable eventually triggering the brain to understand this and send messages to the Central Nervous System that downplays the pain from being a serious problem to a normal body condition.

Through the use of pain killers, people understand that the pain they feel will soon go away and even before the medication starts to work the person starts to feel the pain dropping. This explains why people always tend to believe that any pain killer will ease all types of pain experienced (Ciccarelli and Noland, p. 27). Doctors to work on this psychological aspect of belief for instance when a small child cries endlessly it is assumed to be feeling pain and the administration of pain killers can stop the crying. This therapy also helps individuals with chronic pain to ease the intensity of suffering as they are encouraged to keep themselves busy and get involved in activities that reduce the pain.


Pain makes human life unbearable as people turn to magic, medication and suicide as a way of eliminating or reducing its effect or magnitude. They will travel miles, spend millions of money and drink or eat anything to get rid of a painful situation. The brain plays a very important role in producing and regulating the amount of pain to be felt by a human being. Even though some pain is relieved by the use of artificial medication the brain plays a major role in the determination of the results of suffering due to painful experiences.

Works Cited

  1. Ciccarelli, Sundra, and Noland White. Psychology. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.
  2. Freud, Sigmund. Dream Psychology. New York: CreateSpace, 2012. Print.
  3. James, William. The Principles of Psychology. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007. Print.
  4. Myers, David G. Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers, 2009. Print.
  5. Nevid, Jeffrey S. Psychology: Concepts and Applications. New York: Wadsworth Publishing, 2008. Print.
  6. Pyle, William H. The Science of Human Nature: A Psychology for Beginners. Montana: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2010. Print.
This essay on The Psychological Perceptions of Pain was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2022, January 13). The Psychological Perceptions of Pain. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-psychological-perceptions-of-pain/


IvyPanda. (2022, January 13). The Psychological Perceptions of Pain. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-psychological-perceptions-of-pain/

Work Cited

"The Psychological Perceptions of Pain." IvyPanda, 13 Jan. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/the-psychological-perceptions-of-pain/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Psychological Perceptions of Pain." January 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-psychological-perceptions-of-pain/.


IvyPanda. "The Psychological Perceptions of Pain." January 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-psychological-perceptions-of-pain/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "The Psychological Perceptions of Pain." January 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-psychological-perceptions-of-pain/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'The Psychological Perceptions of Pain'. 13 January.

Powered by CiteTotal, easy citation website
More related papers