Listed in Issue 191


BERNA and COLLEAGUES, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK. sought to ascertain whether a small sample of patients with chronic pelvic pain experienced any pain-related cognitions in the form of mental images.



Patients: Ten women with chronic pelvic pain consecutively referred from a tertiary referral center by the physicians in charge of their treatment. An interview was used to determine the presence, emotional valence, content, and impact of cognitions about pain in the form of mental images and verbal thoughts. The Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), Spontaneous Use of Imagery Scale (SUIS), and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) were completed.


In a population of patients with a prolonged duration of pain and high distress, all patients reported experiencing cognitions about pain in the form of mental images. For each patient, the most significant image was both negative in valence and intrusive. The associated emotional-behavioral pattern could be described within a cognitive behavioral therapy framework. Eight patients also reported coping imagery.


Negative pain-related cognitions in the form of intrusive mental imagery were reported by women with chronic pelvic pain. Targeting such imagery has led to interesting treatment innovation in the emotional disorders. Thus, imagery, hitherto neglected in pain phenomenology, could provide a novel target for cognitive behavioral therapy in chronic pain. These exciting yet preliminary results require replication and extension in a broader population of patients with chronic pain.


Berna C, Vincent K, Moore J, Tracey I, Goodwin GM and Holmes EA. Presence of mental imagery associated with chronic pelvic pain: a pilot study. Pain Medicine. 12(7): 1086-93. Jul 2011.

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