Volume 8 · Number 3 · Pages 339-350
Pain and Body Awareness. An Exploration of the Bodily Experience of Persons Suffering from Fibromyalgia

Camila Valenzuela-Moguillansky

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Context: Despite the fact that pain and body awareness are by definition subjective experiences, most studies assessing these phenomena and the relationship between them have done so from a “third-person” perspective, meaning that they have used methods whose aim is to try to objectify the phenomena under study. Problem: This article assesses the question of what is the impact of a widespread chronic pain condition in the bodily experience of persons suffering from fibromyalgia. Method: I used an interview methodology stemming from a phenomenological approach called the “elicitation interview.” Results: The results indicate that the intensification of fibromyalgia pain does in fact affect different aspects of body awareness: in particular, experienced body size, weight and localization, as well as the experience of owning one’s own body. In addition, these disruptions in patient’s body awareness have as a result, a modification of the experience of pain, leading to the apparently paradoxical experience of being in pain while not feeling it. Implications: The elicitation interview approach made it possible to gather and analyze descriptions of the bodily experience of persons suffering from fibromyalgia. This approach allowed the consideration of the hypothesis that the disruption of implicit knowledge of the topography of patients’ bodies prevents them from referring to the pain sensation in terms of its localization and intensity, transforming the sensation in a way that is experienced as paradoxical. Further studies should be conducted that focus on the interplay between attention, pain and body perception. Constructivist content: The study presented in this article is framed within the perspective that the study of conscious phenomena should consider a first-person perspective, which is in line with constructivist approaches.

Key words: Pain, first-person approach, fibromyalgia, body awareness, elicitation interview, body perception


Valenzuela-Moguillansky C. (2013) Pain and body awareness. An exploration of the bodily experience of persons suffering from fibromyalgia. Constructivist Foundations 8(3): 339-350. http://constructivist.info/8/3/339

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