School of Psychology

College of Life and Environmental Sciences


Code 22367

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1

Module description

This course covers questions such as: How can we define pain without descending into a tautological understanding of pain as the response to something painful? And how can we understand first-person cognition or subjectivity? Although some chronic pain disorders are the consequence of injury or disease, many others can be viewed as a manifestation of life in the 21st century being ‘painful’. The primary goal of this course is to help you gain an advanced understanding of philosophy, psychology and neurology as they apply to pain. You will cover the following:

• Cogito and the definition of pain
• The nature of knowledge and the knowledge of nature
• Manipulation of pain subjectivity: Hypnosis and Placebo
• The possible causes of functional pains such as fibromyalgia
• How did we end up with health as an identity?
• The spinal cord and the brain in pain
• The fetal pain controversy

On completion of this module the student will be able to:
Understand the strengths and limitations of specificity theory and the biopsychosocial model of pain.
Articulate the brilliance and limitations of Cogito.
Understand the state/non-state argument in hypnosis research
Recognize the ways in which pain experience can change despite the presence of similar injury.
Describe the key brain regions involved in pain and the methods of assessment.
Critically assess application of the official pain definition.
Coherently discuss and describe the problem of malingering.
Understand the treatment options for chronic pain

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and workshops