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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The relationship between negative affect and health outcomes is widely studied. One finding, clearly supported by both behavioral and biological data, is that pain and poor health lead to greater negative affect. We aim to challenge this paradigm by exploring the ways that positive affect can affect pain and health outcomes. Current models of pain show that painful experiences are more than just a direct mapping of nociceptive input: They are mediated by complex cerebral processes and psychological input. The objective of this chapter is to examine the role that positive affect plays in alleviating pain and benefitting health overall. In medical and clinical settings, positive affect is often overlooked and considered a mere negative correlate to negative affect. This chapter examines the true relationship between positive and negative affect and the implications of this relationship or balance in individuals with pain. The chapter suggests that positive and negative affect cannot be characterized as opposite ends of a single spectrum or as orthogonal factors produced by distinct systems. Each experience of positive and negative affect is a complex mapping within an affective sphere. Potentially beneficial manipulations of positive affect (intervention studies), informed by work on the brain basis of emotions, are explored.

Keywords: Pain, positive emotion, positive affect, chronic pain, negative affect, painful experience

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