Publication of the week: Jasmine Hearn, Katherine Finlay and Philip Fine

8 August 2016

J.H. Hearn, K.A. Finlay & P.A. Fine, “The devil in the corner: A mixed-methods study of metaphor use by those with spinal cord injury-specific neuropathic pain”, British Journal of Health Psychology 21.4 (2016), 973-988. DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12211

Dr Jasmine Hearn has a research interest in the experience of chronic pain after spinal cord injury. She and her supervisors, Dr Katherine Finlay and Dr Philip Fine, have published a paper exploring the effects of the language used to describe pain on its perception.

Neuropathic pain is often described with metaphorical language such as burning and crushing. This study found that 94% of the sample used metaphors like burning, hellish, and devil-like to describe their pain. Others likened pain to less distressing images such as constant toothache and pins and needles. Women and people of a younger age were more likely to use metaphors due to their increased willingness to disclose pain and cope in a social manner. Discussing pain in this way is beneficial for increasing the understanding and empathy of those around you, but paying increased attention to pain through the use of distressing metaphors may actually increase pain perception. Image-based techniques, used in conjunction with acceptance- and/or mindfulness-based therapies may be useful for reducing pain-related distress.

Read more on the journal’s website.

Dr Jasmine Hearn obtained her DPhil from Buckingham in March 2016, and now teaches Psychology in the University of Buckingham Medical School. Her research interests include chronic pain, particularly after spinal cord injury, and the applications of mindfulness for those with chronic pain, as well as for the wellbeing of students.