How the buzzword “catastrophizing” stigmatizes people with chronic pain

By Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW

The first time I heard the word “catastrophizing” being used to describe the pain experience on a national level was at a chronic pain lecture at the National Institutes of Health. It sent shivers through my body.

After 25 years of living with chronic pain and 20 years working with the pain community as a clinical social worker, I have become an expert in the field and what it takes to fight to take back your life from intolerable, daily pain while creating a quality of life. I was horrified at the use of this pejorative word and voiced my reaction.

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On Oct. 20, more than 60 pain warriors from the greater Chicago area attended U.S. Pain’s eighth Take Control of Your Pain event. Take Control of Your Pain is a series of free educational days for people with pain and their caregivers. The events, held in locations across the country, bring together pain warriors with experts in a variety of fields related to pain management. The events also are a chance for people with pain to connect with one another and meet with U.S. Pain representatives.

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Take Control of Your Pain: Boston is a little over one week away! Take Control of Your Pain events are free, daylong seminars for people with pain and their caregivers to hear from experts in pain management and connect with other pain warriors. The event, which is cohosted by U.S. Pain and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management in conjunction with the academy’s annual conference, will take place Nov. 10 from 10 am to 3:30 pm at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School.

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