A social constructionist analysis is reported of how sense is made of everyday pain. Q factor analysis is used within a critical framework as Q methodology. Sixty-one participants completed the procedure. Eight factors or accounts of everyday pain were derived. These are reported as pain as malfunction, pain as self-growth, pain as spiritual growth, pain as alien invasion, pain as coping and control, pain as abuse, pain as homeostatic mechanism and pain and power. Common to all of the accounts is the theme of how pain relates to self, and in particular, of whether pain can change self. This theme is expanded and discussed in terms of how self is protected and legitimated in a context of pain as a fundamental threat. Implications of this study for how to understand the experience of 'abnormal' pain are discussed, as are possible new research routes.