Information & Resources

Find information and resources to help manage your pain.

Get Help & Support

Find the tools you need to
help you manage your pain.

Get Involved

Help make a real difference to people
in the UK living with chronic pain.

About Us

Find out about Pain Concern and how
we can help you.

Not all in the mind

It is unfor­tu­nate­ly not uncom­mon for peo­ple in pain to be told by oth­ers (fam­i­ly, col­leagues or health­care pro­fes­sion­als) that their pain must be ‘all in the mind’. Aman­da C de C Williams gives some tips on how you can respond

There is a way of think­ing that says that if some­thing can­not be explained med­ical­ly or iden­ti­fied by med­ical tests then it must be ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal’. The idea is either that the per­son ‘believes’ that they have pain, but doesn’t real­ly, or that what­ev­er pain they have aris­es entire­ly from men­tal process­es and is not ‘real’. It is dif­fer­ent from acknowl­edg­ing that pain and emo­tion­al dis­tress or psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­ders may be related.

The fact that cur­rent med­ical knowl­edge can­not explain some­thing does not mean that a mech­a­nism for the pain will not even­tu­al­ly be dis­cov­ered lead­ing to effec­tive treatments.

If you have been told that your pain is all in the mind, here are four assertive respons­es you could use:

‘Pain is a mind-body prob­lem. The two can’t be separated.’

‘I’m dis­tressed because of my pain and the prob­lems it caus­es. Pain caus­es dis­tress, not the oth­er way round.’

‘I realise it is good news that the inves­ti­ga­tions [X‑ray, scan, blood tests] show noth­ing seri­ous. But I feel pain because that’s what my ner­vous sys­tem tells my brain and no inves­ti­ga­tion can show that.’ After all, plen­ty of acute pains accept­ed as ‘real’ wouldn’t show up on inves­ti­ga­tions like that, from headache to mus­cle cramp to renal colic.

‘If you had pain like this, and it affect­ed your life like it affects mine, don’t you think you would be worried/distressed/depressed/frustrated?’


Aman­da C de C Williams is a Read­er in Clin­i­cal Health Psy­chol­o­gy at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Lon­don, and Con­sul­tant Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gist at the Pain Man­age­ment Cen­tre of the Nation­al Hos­pi­tal for Neu­rol­o­gy & Neu­ro­surgery, London.

Not all in the mind © Aman­da C de C Williams. All rights reserved. March 2014.

https://painconcern.org.uk/cordless-car-vacuum-cleaner-eraclean-best-handheld-vacuum/