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Prevalence of pain flashbacks in posttraumatic stress disorder arising from exposure to multiple traumas or childhood traumatization


Macdonald, Birthe; Salomons, Tim V; Meteyard, L; Whalley, Matthew G (2018). Prevalence of pain flashbacks in posttraumatic stress disorder arising from exposure to multiple traumas or childhood traumatization. Canadian Journal of Pain, 2(1):48-56.

Abstract

Background: Flashbacks are a form of multisensory memory that are experienced with a “happening in the present” quality. Pain flashbacks are a re-experiencing of pain felt at the time of a traumatic event. It is unclear how common pain flashbacks are.

Aims: The current study was designed primarily to assess the prevalence of pain flashbacks in a sample of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Methods: We assessed the prevalence of pain flashbacks over a period of 2 years in patients (n = 166) referred to a psychological trauma service in the UK. Patients underwent a clinical screen for PTSD and completed a self-report measure of pain flashbacks.

Results: Pain flashbacks were classified as present in 49% of a sample of complex trauma patients meeting criteria for PTSD. Pain flashbacks were positively associated with the extent of pain at the time of trauma.

Conclusions: Pain re-experiencing in PTSD, and its relative absence in nonclinical populations, supports an account of memory in which perceptual details can be re-experienced when memories have been encoded under conditions of extreme stress. It may be possible to conceptualize some cases of unexplained pain as pain flashbacks or of having a trauma origin.

Abstract

Background: Flashbacks are a form of multisensory memory that are experienced with a “happening in the present” quality. Pain flashbacks are a re-experiencing of pain felt at the time of a traumatic event. It is unclear how common pain flashbacks are.

Aims: The current study was designed primarily to assess the prevalence of pain flashbacks in a sample of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Methods: We assessed the prevalence of pain flashbacks over a period of 2 years in patients (n = 166) referred to a psychological trauma service in the UK. Patients underwent a clinical screen for PTSD and completed a self-report measure of pain flashbacks.

Results: Pain flashbacks were classified as present in 49% of a sample of complex trauma patients meeting criteria for PTSD. Pain flashbacks were positively associated with the extent of pain at the time of trauma.

Conclusions: Pain re-experiencing in PTSD, and its relative absence in nonclinical populations, supports an account of memory in which perceptual details can be re-experienced when memories have been encoded under conditions of extreme stress. It may be possible to conceptualize some cases of unexplained pain as pain flashbacks or of having a trauma origin.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2018
Deposited On:23 Sep 2019 10:42
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:46
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:2474-0527
OA Status:Gold
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/24740527.2018.1435994

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