Psychological Self-Help

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less pain. Stressful interactions with others seem to exacerbate the
effects of pain (Schwartz, Slater & Birchler, 1994). If their pain is a
mystery or someone else's fault, they experience more pain.
Interestingly, if they have a good, close system of social support, they
also report having more pain. If they can come to understand the
causes of their pain and, where appropriate, see their physical pain as
a substitute for psychological pain, then they can learn to directly
express other feelings and emotions... and learn to relax... and feel
better (Miller, 1993; Marcus, 1994). 
Besides dealing with the pain, chronic sufferers must also deal with
getting on with life, avoiding searching endlessly for a non-existent
total cure, coping with the real disappointments and losses they face,
deciding on a middle ground between "silent suffering" and "constant
complaining," and working out new and satisfying relationships with
the people they love. These are hard problems to solve. Don't wait
long to get expert help. There are over 1000 Pain Clinics, some
concentrate on medications, some on psychological methods, some on
a variety of hands-on techniques to ease pain, such as massage or
chiropractic, some more spiritual, and so on. Ask your doctor for a
referral or call your local hospital for a referral to a specialized pain
center. The problem is that almost anyone can establish a Pain Clinic,
so choose one carefully--only physicians (MDs) can prescribe all the
available medications but they don't ordinarily do psychological
treatment. So, the ideal doctor is hard to find. Therefore, I'd suggest
seeing an MD who specializes with your specific kind of pain and who
also works closely with a Physical Therapist (more common) or with a
psychologist. In most cases, doctors in general practice, psychologists,
chiropractors, massage therapists, exercise trainers, health
educators/counselors and others are not well trained in the full range
of pain control. Even though I believe a skilled hypnotist may have
something to offer, I would not see one without first consulting
expensively with a pain specialist with a MD and then confirming the
credentials of the hypnotist. Finally, knowledge in this area is changing
so rapidly and treatments so unreliable (and some are so expensive
and long-term), I would strongly urge everyone in pain to do extensive
reading in recent publications about his/her specific kind of pain. This
is far from an exact science. 
Among the more popular books for back pain are McKenzie
(2001) and Sarno (1999), both MDs. Amir (1999) wrote a self-help
back pain book based on Sarno. Jemmett (2001), being a Physical
Therapist, takes a somewhat different approach called spinal
stabilization. Three recent headache books are by MDs: Paulino &
Griffith (2001), Buchholz & Reich (2002), and Diamond & Franklin
(2001). They all give practical advice to the layman. Also, if you suffer
from headaches, write the National Headache Foundation, 428 W. St.
James Place, 2nd floor, Chicago, IL 60614 or call 800-843-2256. Other
how-to workbooks for pain are by Catalano & Hardin (1996), Caudill
(1995), and Chaitow (1993). Several good self-help references are
Martin, 1993; Anciano, 1987; Hanson & Gerber, 1989; Catalano,
1987; Melzack & Perry, 1980; Low, 1987; Chaitow, 1990. 
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