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Murray J. McAllister, PsyD

Murray J. McAllister, PsyD

Murray J. McAllister, PsyD, is the editor and founder of the Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP). The ICP is an educational and public policy think tank. Its mission is to lead the field in making pain management more empirically supported. Additionally, the ICP provides Academic quality information on chronic pain that is approachable to patients and their families. Dr. McAllister is also the clinical director of pain services for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (CKRI), part of Allina Health, in Minneapolis, MN. Among other services, CKRI provides chronic pain rehabilitation services on a residential and outpatient basis.

Aug 07, 2015

Self-Management

Often in discussions of chronic pain and its treatments, self-management gets neglected as a viable option. It gets forgotten about. Or perhaps it just never comes to mind when patients or providers talk about the ways to successfully manage pain. Instead, stakeholders in the field tend to focus on the use of medications or interventional procedures or surgeries.

We live in an interesting time within the field of pain management. We literally have two competing ways of understanding the nature of pain – what it is and how it works and what to do about it.

Recent data in the Lancet show that as societies become increasingly industrialized around the world, rates of low back pain, migraine, depression, obesity and type 2 diabetes increase (among other conditions). It's an interesting commentary on the social determinants of health.

In the last post, we discussed the nature of perfectionism and the problems associated with it. Specifically, we reviewed how perfectionism is problematic and how perfectionism leads to poor coping with chronic pain. In this post, let’s review some basic ways to begin to overcome perfectionism.

While clinical lore is that perfectionists are more prone to the development of chronic pain, it may just be that perfectionists are more likely to seek care for their chronic pain. Reason? Perfectionists with chronic pain are more prone to behavioral exacerbations of pain as well as anxiety and depression. Let’s see how.

Coping gets short shrift in our healthcare system. We don’t spend a lot of time or money on it. Instead, we devote the vast majority of our healthcare resources to various procedures and medications that attempt to cure conditions, or at the very least attempt to get rid of the symptoms that on-going health conditions cause. We hardly spend any time or money on what patients themselves can do to keep the conditions from disrupting their lives. 

Contexts matter. The same joke might go over in very different ways, depending on whether it’s told by a comedian in front of an audience at a comedy club or told by an applicant in the middle of a job interview. An action done over and over again might be considered in one context an admirable example of perseverance in the face of adversity, whereas in another context it might be considered an exercise in futility.

The Institute for Chronic Pain has a new content page on our website entitled: Why Healthcare Providers Deliver Ineffective Care. As is our custom, we announce such additions to the website on our blog and provide a little introduction to it. The content on this new page of the website is particularly important to me because providing content like it is one of the reasons why I founded the Institute. It’s not too far of a stretch to say that it’s why we do what we do. By way of introduction, then, I’d like to explain.

The stigma of chronic pain is personally hurtful. It is a negative judgment of you that others make. Specifically, stigma occurs when others judge you simply for being who you are – someone with chronic pain. You are looked down upon because of it. As such, stigma is more than hurtful. It’s shaming.

You can now follow the Institute for Chronic Pain on Twitter! Check us out at:

On all our social media sites, we add content daily on news, blogs, and sites that are related to chronic pain.


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  • Should the Definition of Opioid Addiction Change?

    Twenty some odd years ago, the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society, two large pain-related professional organizations, teamed up to agree upon what it means to have both chronic pain and be addicted to opioid pain…

    Learn more »»

  • How to Get Better When Pain is Chronic

    In the last post, we began to introduce a broad definition of coping, as one’s subjective experience, or reaction, to a problem. In this post, let’s expand on this definition and explain how coming to cope better with a problem…

    Learn more »»

  • How to End the Stigma of Pain

    Stigma is a significant and persistent problem for those with chronic pain. Stigma occurs when someone is judged for having a condition that they didn't choose to have, like chronic pain. In other words, stigma is the criticism of being…

    Learn more »»

  • Is it possible to manage pain well without opioids?

    In chronic pain management, there are different types of pain clinics. Among others, there are two that seem almost diametrically opposed in their treatment of patients – even for patients with the same chronic pain conditions. One type of pain…

    Learn more »»

  • Finding Hope in Acceptance

    At first thought, it might seem crazy to accept that your pain is chronic. When I bring it up with patients, many of them tell me, not without irritation in their voice, “I’ll never give up hope of finding someone…

    Learn more »»

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