Learned helplessness, cognitive errors and perfectionism in depressed and non-depressed chronic pain patients

by Renee Jeanne Gultig

Institution: University of Johannesburg
Year: 2014
Keywords: Chronic diseases - Psychological aspects; Pain - Psychological aspects; Depression, Mental; Helplessness (Psychology)
Record ID: 1475445
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10210/11488


The increasing interest in cognitive factors both in the literature on pain and in developments in research on depression has led to the present study, where cognitive factors associated with depression were investigated in clinical groups of chroni c pa in patients. The cognitive factors studied were learned helplessness (Seligman, 1975), cognitive errors and distortions (Beck, 1976), perfectionism (Bums, 19800 1980b), as well as hopelessness (Beck, 1974). It was hypothesised that these factors would occur in definite patterns in relation to each other, in groups of pain patients categorised into four groups on the basis of raised or lowered levels of both depression and a subjective pain rating. It was hypothesised that learned helplessness would vary in direct relationship to depression but that simultaneously increased levels of pain would elevate helplessness further. It was also hypothesised that perfectionism and cognitive errors and distortions would vary inversely with helplessness and that amongst pain patients with high levels of pain and low levels of depression, raised scores on measures of perfectionism and cognitive errors may indicate the presence of a 'masked' depression. Some evidence was found to suggest that cognitive factors do play an important role in pain, although no significant results were found to support the specific hypotheses of this study. The need for finer discrimination in the type' of pain patient selected, particularly in regard to ·the diagnosis of the pain syndrome, as well as the inclusion of cognitive factors other than those presently considered, is indicated for future research.