Understanding the link between mental defeat and chronic pain

  • Charlotte Hazeldine

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)


Background. Recently, 'mental defeat' (MD) has been explored amongst the chronic pain population and considered as a sort of 'self-processing'. Initial research has linked it to anxiety, pain interference and functional disability. Research has recommended that we explore the relationship between MD and other cognitive constructs, such as hopelessness and depression. The present study firstly considers MD as a predictor for pain symptomology and self-efficacy when related cognitive constructs are examined. Secondly, although chronic pain and MD commonly co-occur, causal relationships have yet to be established1.Method. For the cross-sectional analysis, 59 participants from three pain services completed a questionnaire pack assessing five cognitive constructs; anxiety, depression, hopelessness, pain catastrophizing, and mental defeat. Participants also answered questions about their demographics, pain symptomology and self-efficacy.Results. Linear regression analyses revealed that anxiety was most strongly associated with pain symptomology, accounting for 26% of the variance. When breaking down pain symptomology, catastrophizing showed the strongest association with sensory pain, and mental defeat the strongest association with affective pain. Finally, mental defeat was the most strongly associated variable with self-efficacy, accounting for 47% of the variance.Implications. This research has demonstrated the potential importance of assessing mental defeat in chronic pain patients and, where suitable, targeting these feelings during interventions and therapy. This may have an impact on how well people feel able to cope with their pain. Further, the study indicates mental defeat is different to related cognitive constructs involved in pain, such as depression, hopelessness and catastrophizing
Date of Award21 Jul 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPaul Salkovskis (Supervisor), Maria Loades (Supervisor) & Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis (Supervisor)


  • mental defeat
  • Transition
  • Self-Injurious Behavior

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