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Papers of the Week

2022 Apr 18



Not my body, not my pain? Pain perception and placebo analgesia in individuals with body integrity dysphoria.



Acute and chronic states of physical pain are inherently linked to our bodily perception. Bodily illusion paradigms have demonstrated that an experimentally induced sense of body disownership can modulate both acute and chronic pain. Insight into the relationship between enduring clinical alterations in body perception and pain is much more limited. The current study examined both pain perception and placebo analgesia in Body Integrity Dysphoria (BID), a clinical model of long-term alterations of bodily disownership: in its most commonly studied variant, people feel like a part of their body does not belong to them, leading to a desire for amputation of a physically healthy limb. Heat stimulations were applied before and after a placebo intervention (sham analgesic cream) to the desired and the undesired leg of 19 patients with BID with a unilateral leg amputation desire. Pain perception was assessed using pain thresholds, and ratings for pain intensity and pain unpleasantness. Results show that pain perception and placebo efficacy were lower for the undesired than for the desired leg, demonstrating a potential link between a clinical disorder of body ownership, pain perception, and placebo analgesia.