chronic pain and guilt

The Guilt of Living with Chronic Pain | Psychology Today United Kingdom


Here is a really helpful article describing a lesser-known aspect of living with chronic pain- guilt!

To those unfamiliar with the reality of living with chronic pain, feeling guilt over such a condition may seem strange. But the reasons for it become pretty obvious once you reflect on them and recognize the harm they cause. Guilt-induced feelings can lead to severe mental health issues and social stigma that debilitate a chronic pain sufferer’s life even more.

Having to live with such a condition is bound to have negative consequences. Patients often suffer from depression, feelings of inadequacy, negative changes in identity.

Pain-related guilt often stems from  widespread acknowledgement of the legitimacy of their condition. Most people do not understand that chronic pain is now defined as a disease by the World Health Organisation, the WHO.

Sadly, chronic pain is still viewed as the pain that we all experience but goes on a bit longer and that “these people just moan a lot”.

Historically many chronic people do not find much understanding through their interactions with the medical fraternity. Mainly in my view because of complete ignorance on the part of the medical practitioners that they have seen.

Many patients are often left feeling like a fraud or that their condition is entirely psychosomatic leading to feelings of guilt.

Then there’s the personal guilt a patient can feel from not being able to fulfil their duties and responsibilities at home to their families and often becoming dependent on others. Needing care is big step for anyone and so often can lead to guilt.

At work, there may be periods of absence leading to a sense that they are not pulling their weight and being seen as a weak link and letting the team down. Or the chronic pain sufferer may not be able to work at all, and guilt may arise at home for not contributing to the household finances.

Left unchecked, all of this can lead to severe mental health issues that can result in drug or alcohol abuse, total mental breakdown, and even suicide. It’s a facet of the nation’s ongoing mental health crisis that is too often ignored.

Not only do many sufferers experience guilt but all too often it comes with negative thoughts of self-deprecation and shame.

These issues are explored in our online self-management program