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When pain changes your life

Oct 11, 2021

Impacts of pain on social life

Pain and family life

Pain impacts a person's social life as a whole. His social life begins with his family life. Depending on their age, the pain felt by the painful person will impact their relationships with their parents, brothers and sisters, partner, children, loved ones. Having pain can mean for the person: not being able to be as usual, without pain. The pain will alter his way of behaving. It will have an impact on her relationships with those she loves. The person will no longer be able, for example, to pay them the same attention. This is the child who is no longer listened to by his mother. This is the woman who no longer feels desired by her partner. It is again, the elderly person who will no longer accompany to the door during a visit, the child who will no longer want to play with his brother. Pain can alter relationships with loved ones , especially when pain is not occasional but a regular part of life.

“But take care of yourself! »

Depending on how the relatives react to the complaint, the person in pain may decide to shut up and hide their pain as much as possible. Misunderstood, she gradually isolates herself from those close to her and behaves with them as with the rest of the world: say as little as possible. A deep resentment towards them can result. Conflicts are also frequent . Many are rooted in a difference of perspective about how a person should deal with their chronic pain. The "right" treatment, taking medication, the competence of the doctor or even the use of an osteopath, an acupuncturist or relaxation methods are all polarizing subjects.

"Not tonight darling, I have a migraine "

Better understood, the person can choose to talk about their ailments, to allow those close to them to understand their change in behavior. Family members can then help when the person is in pain. Help can take many forms, but “not overdoing it” is already considered a helping attitude. Sharing one's painful state with loved ones makes it possible to continue to live with them, if not in a certain harmony at least in a certain authenticity, with regard to the pain felt. In the family cocoon, the chronically painful will say that he is in pain, that he wants to rest, that he does not want to go out, talk, watch TV or have sex, when he feels pain. He may also say that he cannot take care of the children at certain times, for example. If the situation is repeated regularly, he will be able to set up a different way of life with his loved ones during his crises.

Man holding his head in the dark in his bedroom

family of painful

In other families, intimate knowledge of chronic pain is a commonality between these members. There, it is generally not the understanding of the situation of the other which proves to be problematic. Everyone thinks they have a good knowledge of what the other is going through when they are in pain, but also when they organize their life according to painful episodes. The family is experienced as a comforting, understanding, constructive place . Its members exchange solutions to manage their pain as best as possible (doctor, relaxation techniques, medication, etc.). However, this good reciprocal understanding of painful situations can also worsen conflicts . The care options chosen by one or the other can then be discussed – one imagines – with full knowledge of the facts.
The role of emotions in chronic pain: Planet health article


  • David Le Breton, "Holding on: chronic pain and self-reinvention", Editions Le Métailié
  • Nadia Péoc'h, Social representations of pain – the praxeological perspective of support and health education practices, Les dossiers des sciences de l'éducation, 2014.
  • Nadia Péoc'h, Pain and care, between action and support – association for research in nursing care, research in nursing care, 2012/3n°110/page 65 to 77
  • Available on CAIRN.INFO
  • Khadidja Sahli, “Chronic pain tears life apart”, Le temps, 3.04.2017.
  • Claudia Véron, “A corporo-socio-psychological approach to the chronically painful man: listening to the ailments of migraine”, master's thesis in psychology, University of Lausanne. Winter 2013.

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