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Three References and Abstracts Relating to Mental Pain

 
 
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Orbach, I. (2003). Mental pain and suicide. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 40(3), 191-201.

Abstract: Different models of mental pain (emotional pain, psychological pain, psychache) are described: (A) the literary model that is based on a content analysis of Styron’s book Darkness visible: A memoir of madness, describes mental pain as an inner turmoil of hostile forces; (B) the narrative model based on a qualitative analysis of pain narratives by patients defines pain as a sense of brokenness (Bolger); (C) the phenomenological-psychache model focuses on psychache as a frustration of the most important needs (Shneidman); (D) the theoretical model and (E) the empirical model view mental pain as a perception of negative changes in the self and its function (Baumeister) (Orbach & Mikulincer). The common aspects in all models include intense negative emotions, loss of self, surfeit of the negative. Other aspects appear in some of the models, but not in others (e.g., incompleteness, emptiness). The relevance of mental pain to treatment of suicidal people is discussed.

Orbach, I., Mikulincer, M., Gilboa-Schechtman, E., & Sirota, P. (2003). Mental pain and its relationship to suicidality and life meaning. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 33(3), 231-241.

Abstract: Shneidman (1996) proposed that intense mental pain is related to suicide. Relatedly, Frankl (1963) argued that the loss of life’s meaning is related to intense mental pain. The first goal of this research was to test Shneidman’s proposition by comparing the mental pain of suicidal and nonsuicidal individuals. Meaning in life and optimism are the polar opposites of suicidality and hopelessness, and the examination of these variables in relation to mental pain was undertaken to provide a test of Frankl’s proposition. In two studies, a relationship between a newly developed measure of mental pain—the Orbach & Mikulincer Mental Pain Scale, 2002 (OMMP; see also Orbach, Mikulincer, Sirota & Gilboa-Schechtman, 2002)—and suicidal behavior and life meaning were examined. Results confirmed both propositions. Implications for the study of mental pain and suicide are discussed.

Orbach, I., Mikulincer, M., Sirota, P., & Gilboa-Schechtman, E. (2003). Mental pain: A multidimensional operationalization and definition. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 33(3), 219-230.

Abstract: An operationalization of mental pain is presented in three studies. The first study describes the operationalization of mental pain and the factor structure of the items produced by a content analysis of self-reports yielding a scale with nine factors: the experience of irreversibility, loss of control, narcissistic wounds, emotional flooding, freezing, estrangement, confusion, social distancing, and emptiness. Study 2 tested the relationship between mental pain and depression and anxiety in a normal population. Study 3 focused on the relationship between mental pain and coping. Mental pain is conceptualized as a perception of negative changes in the self and its functions that are accompanied by negative feelings. It is suggested that it can be meaningfully applied to the study of different mental states, life conditions, and transitions in life.

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