Pain Perception

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・5 Sources

This paper will discuss research that suggests pain perception is not solely determined by physical injury. As an example:

  • Chronic pain does not develop solely as a result of unpleasant stimuli. People believe they are in pain even when they are not, as in phantom pain.
  • Pain might start in one location yet be felt in another.
  • People perceive and experience pain differently; for example, some may suffer more pain than others for the same injury.
  • The severity of an injury has no bearing on the level of pain felt.
  • It is possible for neurons to block pain.

Pain Perception

Pain is a feeling in the body that signals something harmful is happening to the body. The pain we feel whether physically or emotionally brings about actions in our brain that helps us take care of it in good time. The pain sensation also triggers our brains to store the causes of the pain in memory and prevents us from repeating the mistake that led us to the pain. The amount of pain perceived after an injury is not determined by the size or extent of the injury. Pain is mostly nociceptive, neuropathic, visceral and psychogenic.
Chronic pain does not occur as a result of noxious stimuli alone, but it also occurs in the absence of physical harm (The Open University, 2016). Most people who experience chronic pain feel it physically and emotionally long after the injuries have healed. For instance, someone who suffered from a stroke or arthritis might continue to feel physical pain even after healing. The trauma of the illness might also result to emotional pain such as depression.
The second evidence that shows pain is not dependent on physical injury is phantom pain. This pain is experienced after an amputation. The perception of pain in this case is referred pain where the pain might be originating from somewhere else but patients believe it is originating from the stump (The Open University, 2016). Their imagination and association to pain might also deceive them to believe that there is pain on their stump when there is none. Evidence shows that phantom pain happens when there are changes between linked neurons. This happens when the brain does not receive any nociceptor signals. As a result, the transmitter cell becomes very sensitive and starts sending action signals to the brain which in turn interprets the pain (The Open University, 2016). The individual in this case perceives pain when it is not really there.
The third evidence of non-physical induced injury is called psychogenic pain (The Open University, 2016). This pain is psychological and is not caused by physical harm. Examples of such pain can be seen when couples break up. The hurt that each person feels is not triggered by an injury but it is a kind of pain nonetheless. That is why some people describe this pain as heartbreak or heart ache. An individual can literally feel their heart aching even though there has been no physical injury to the heart. When people divorce or break up, people close to them emphasize with their situation and feel their pain. Others feel the pain of their children when they get sick. The pain felt by these two parties is devoid of noxious stimuli but it is pain nonetheless.
The fourth kind of pain that proves pain is not dependent on physical injury is referred pain. This happens when a person feels pain at a different place from where it originated. For instance, when someone takes very cold water from the fridge, they are likely to experience some kind of pain on the arms, or around the eyes due to the almost frozen water. This pain should be felt around the tongue or in the mouth, but it manifests itself at a different place that has not been injured. This is experienced when the brain cannot differentiate between pains transmitted by nociceptor cells as a result of external or internal injury due to a synapse formed with the transmission cell in the spinal cord (The Open University, 2016).
The reaction of injured soldiers at the battle field and people injured in a car accident also prove that the extent of an injury is not directly proportional to the pain felt by an individual. According to Dr. Henry Beecher, there is no big difference between pain felt due to an immediate injury and that felt as a result of long illness. Dr Beecher states that the amount of pain felt depends on how the individual perceives the pain (The Open University, 2016). For instance, a soldier injured in the battle field will not feel the pain of a gunshot immediately due to the action happening around him. However, he will feel the pain much later after he has calmed down.
Ronald Melzack's gate theory also states that it is possible for the cell transmitters to block the pain from being transmitted to the brain hence preventing pain perception (The Open University, 2015). An example of this pain theory is when someone burns their hand with hot water, or hits their foot on a hard surface. The reflex action is to cover the hand with ice cubes or run it under cold water, or rub the hurt foot to reduce swelling and pain. When people rub hurt organs of their body, the touch neurons recognize the action of touching and inhibit the nociceptor neurons from releasing action potentials which perceive pain.


Pain is a sensation that people feel when they are physically injured, emotionally hurt or as a result of a previous painful action. The sensory neurons transmit pain to the brain through the spinal cords and the brain interprets the kind of pain we feel.


I found it easy and enjoyable to write this essay because I read and understood the module provided.
I did not find any differences between scientific content of my final work and my essay plan.
To write better essays in the future, I intend to read widely and use diverse knowledge from different scholars.


The Open University (2015) SDK100 Science and health: an evidence-based approach: Topic 3 Section 6, The Open University.
The Open University (2016) SDK100 Science and health: an evidence-based approach: Topic 3 Section 4, The Open University.
The Open University (2016) SDK100 Science and health: an evidence-based approach: Topic 3 Section 3, The Open University.
The Open University (2016) SDK100 Science and health: an evidence-based approach: Topic 3 Section 2, The Open University.
The Open University (2016) SDK100 Science and health: an evidence-based approach: Topic 3 Section 1, The Open University.

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