The scientific study of belief and pain modulation: conceptual problems

In F. P. Mario, M. F. P. Peres, G. Lucchetti & R. F. Damiano (eds.), Spirituality, Religion and Health: From Research to Clinical Practice. New York, USA: Springer (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


We examine conceptual and methodological problems that arise in the course of the scientific study of possible influences of religious belief on the experience of physical pain. We start by attempting to identify a notion of religious belief that might enter into interesting psychological generalizations involving both religious belief and pain. We argue that it may be useful to think of religious belief as a complex dispositional property that relates believers to a sufficiently thick belief system that encompasses both cognitive and non-cognitive elements. Such a conception of religious belief is more likely to correlate with psychological properties of believers that are both sufficiently shared and sufficiently unique to distinguish their psychology from believers in another religion or from non-believers. If the dispositional psychological property that constitutes religious belief does influence pain, then our analysis suggests that it doesn’t do so directly but rather through one of its occurrent manifestations. We offer a taxonomy of the different ways in which occurrent states of belief or experience may interact with physical pain, and we try to identify those that are more interesting or promising. We then proceed to employ the conceptual framework we developed to some of the existing evidence about the neural and psychological correlates of religious belief and experience, and about the cognitive modulation of physical pain. Finally we turn to analyse two experiments that directly investigated the relation between religious belief and pain. We draw attention to the limitations of existing evidence and end by suggesting directions for future conceptual and empirical inquiry.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Belief in pain.Don Gustafson - 1995 - Consciousness and Cognition 4 (3):323-345.
Belief in pain.Donald F. Gustafson - 1995 - Consciousness and Cognition 4 (3):323-45.
Sex differences in pain: And now for something completely different.Ron Kupers - 1997 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (3):455-456.
Chronic Pain - the Ethics of Care, Belief and Coping.Kate Jones - 2006 - Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 11 (4):6.
The Analogical Argument for Animal Pain.Roy W. Perrett - 1997 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 14 (1):49-58.
Some foundational problems in the scientific study of pain.Murat Aydede & Güven Güzeldere - 2002 - Philosophy of Science Supplement 69 (3):265-83.
'Errors of Judgment': The Case of Pain Sensations.F. Loonat - 2009 - South African Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):146-159.


Added to PP

378 (#41,648)

6 months
53 (#57,316)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Guy Kahane
Oxford University
Nicholas Shackel
Cardiff University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references