Stanford’s Darnall to Discuss Pain Relief at the World Economic Forum

Stanford’s Darnall to Discuss Pain Relief at the World Economic Forum

By Ed Coghlan.

National Pain Report: “Dr. Darnall, why is the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland asking a pain psychologist to present?”

Dr. Darnall: “I was invited to present at WEF on behalf of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. Broadly, the team is speaking about the interface between psychology and health. I am focusing specifically on empowered pain relief – using psychological strategies to best control pain and its impacts, and to help medical treatments for pain work better. A colleague, David Spiegel will be speaking on hypnosis for pain relief. Another psychologist, Ali Crum is speaking on the power of mindset to influence body functions, health behaviors and outcomes.”

National Pain Report: “You have been talking shifting pain mindset to health mindset through education and skills building – in the real world how does that work?”

Dr. Darnall: “Living one’s best life within the context of pain requires learning how to steer the nervous system towards relief. I like to say that we are born motivated to escape pain, but we are not born knowing how to modulate pain or the distress that it causes us. This must be learned. Through excellent self-management skills we can reclaim a level of control over our pain and mental wellbeing. Good starting places include:  websites that offer pain management educational print and video resources (e.g., the American Chronic Pain Association or PainToolkit.Org), books, and working with a local health or pain psychologist.”

National Pain Report: “You have been studying about how to train the mind to reduce opioid use – what are you going to be sharing on that issue at the conference.”

Dr. Beth Darnall

Dr. Darnall: “In Davos, I am describing the role of psychology in the experience and treatment of pain and how mindset impacts how well pain treatments work and the importance of addressing negative pain mindset factors early on so that we can help set up patients for success with their treatments and overall reduction of pain. If patients have the goal of opioid reduction we need to address their fears first.”

National Pain Report: “I ask you this practically every time we have an interview – access to pain psychology is an issue – many pain patients don’t have health plans or health plans that cover it. Can you give some examples of what the individual can do himself or herself to ‘train the mind’ about pain?”

Dr. Darnall: “Learn to calm your nervous system using relaxation skills learned with a relaxation audio file (or other tool), meditation skills, or diaphragmatic breathing. The key is to repeatedly counteract how pain and stress impact the brain and body. If these effects are not treated, they feed back into pain and contribute to the problem. By treating it daily, you begin to steer mind and body away from pain, and it provides you with a critical level of control over your experience. Learn whether you have a negative pain mindset. It’s natural to have distressing thoughts and to have your mind focus on pain. It is also vitally important to learn ways to steer your brain away from this negative focus; it makes you feel worse in the moment, and it serves to entrain neural networks that prime the nervous system for future pain. By learning relief skills that calm mind and body, you can actually begin to shape brain functioning so that pain processing is dampened in your nervous system. I talk about effective strategies in my books and provide a self-treatment plan.”

Beth Darnall, PhD, is a pain psychologist, clinical scientist, and clinical professor at Stanford University. She is the author of 3 books:  “Less Pain, Fewer Pills: Avoid the dangers of prescription opioids and gain control over chronic pain” ©2014, “The Opioid-Free Pain Relief Kit” ©2016, “Psychological Treatment for Chronic Pain: The evidence-based basics” ©2018 (American Psychological Association Press)

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Bill Gillerstein

Dr Darnell, I appreciate anyone that gets to help. For those if us that were put on opiods in the late 90s have had everything under the sun tried on us. Fro biofeedback to epidural, trigger points and on and on and on. Along with all of the hundreds of tests we were all put on opiods. The lucky ones have irritated down to a dose that worked without damaging our livers and kidneus. We now have had those opiods, the only modality that worked to give us a life. Almost all of us now have had those opiods ripped from us my pur government. I have been on a methadone program for 6 months that I must physically show up for 6 days a week to take my dose. I have had the flu for the last 12 days. For 5 of those days I was still required to drive there with a temp of between 102.4 and 103.4 to get my dose. I might add that I am 64 yrs old who had open heart surgery a yr ago. Along with 12 spinal fusions and two shoulder surgeries. Dr Darnell I have no life. I am now addicted to a new opiod without any pain relief. So when I read about your study to try to get me to a happy place it makes me laugh. I am fighting to decide if I am going to continue living or not. I am not alone there are hundreds of thousands of me created my our government. Everyone you will be speaking to in Davos only want credit for solving the opiods crisis. I can tell you how. Walk over to the Chinese delegation and make them stop flooding the USA with fentynl. Please help the hundreds of thousands of chronic pain sufferers whose lives have been ruined. We don’t need a happy place we need serious people to give us help. Pray for us.


I hope that we get some quality placebo-controlled double-blind studies of the relationship between pain and mindfulness or other techniques. Right now the data is lacking yet many of us are being pushed from a drug that HAS passed that same rigorous level of scientific study.

Here is a journal review of the topic:

A summary in Scientific American:

Without a brain there is no pain, a bio-mechanism protecting us from injurious forces. Scarring damage to body pain transducers, nerves, results in permanent pain. The mental process is not able turn off these autonomic brain/pain signals; survival depends too strongly on conservation of pain mechanisms. As a Work Comp doctor in the 90’s, I watched the insurance industry promote unproven theories of brain “hyperalgesia” and “pain centralization” to justify and require doctors to restrict opiate prescribing; billions saved (paradigm later adopted by federal agencies). At same time certain physicians, who set up live-in “multidisciplinary” programs based on group therapy, counselors, and “cognitive therapies”, made tens of thousands insurance funds off each patient referral. I know, I referred. The catch: patients signed contract that at therapy end they would forever forego opiates paid for by the insurance companies. Physician owners of these live-in facilities made fortunes; one prominent in Palo Alto region. Stanford Medicine is famous for $10,000 individual functional MRI images showing lite-up brain-pain centers; supposedly showing “pain-generating” centers; not centers reporting “peripheral-generated” pain. Hail to Commander Brain! Corporate Medicine economic rewards seemingly reside in high-tech solutions and psychological artifices far removed from the sensible use of low cost natural molecules taken from poppies and cannabis.

Shelley Latin

Perhaps I should wait before posting this comment. But no. I am a pain patient who has experienced much of the same type of pain, generally, as many of the commenters so far have experienced. What I am baffled about is the hostility toward someone whose work is adding an entire new dimension to pain treatment. If this doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. But many pain patients need this kind of treatment to help relieve their pain. Some without any opioids, some in a treatment plan that includes opioids. I have spent time learning how the nervous system and brain connect, why my brain thinks it needs to send brain signals, and what those connections all look like when they are in pain or not. It’s how our body works. It’s how pain works. And no, we can’t ignore pain. The intent of pain is to get our attention and keep it until the pain is relieved. And no, I don’t think I could have focused nearly enough to make this treatment effective for me when I was at peak, untreated pain over an extended time.
It’s important that I reveal that I traveled from a very rural area in another state to go to Stanford. I saw three excellent doctors, medical, PT, and clinical psychologist (Dr. Darnall). They each spent about an hour with me, and then they met together to come up with a treatment plan. I am doing well. This is working for me. That does not mean it will work for everyone. Still. I think Dr. Darnall and others have it right.

Christine Miller

I would really like to believe that pain can be controlled psychologically, and I am trying. For those of you who are totally bashing Dr. Darnell, please re-read her interview. She is not totally against physical treatments for chronic pain. To quote her, “using psychological strategies to best control pain and its impacts, and to help medical treatments for pain work better.” I’m a new CRPS patient at Stanford and am happy to take the multi-disciplinary approach to improve my mind and body. Not only am I in a PT program and seeing a pain psychologist, I will be starting Ketamine infusions soon. I have never taken opioids for personal reasons so maybe my mindset was better prepared for this approach. However, I must say, I’m not completely sold on the idea my pain psychologist is using and may look for a better fit for me. I’ve listened to this guy’s tapes but I feel like he’s trying to hypnotize me. I don’t like him much. He’s not a Stanford Dr. but a local as distance to Stanford is a problem. I know I’m rambling a bit but I just want to say I feel there is a place for psychology in pain management, along with physical therapy, and treatment.

I thank all of you for your comments and personal experiences.
You have validated what I have suspected all along. Being in bed all night and most of the day takes major toll on emotions, especially alone. Friends and family don’t know how much a visit means. They all are too busy.
National Geo, Animal Planet and Smithsonian channels on HD big screen in my bedroom have been comforting.
I do mourn for my once physically active life of hiking, riding horses, gardening, etc., and elated when I get outside able to walk a few minutes. Laughter is a good distraction when I can find a funny movie…
(recently enjoyed “Sideways”’for about the 4th time)

Michael G Langley, MD

Adam G…Witch doctors? Pretty much describes doctors who rely more on old wive’s tales, and opinion, rather than relying on science and research! The present “opiod epidemic” is a myth created by the new media and those doctors who want to restrict opiate prescriptions. Too bad scientific evaluation has shown that the doctors’ prescriptions were not the source of 90% of the deaths associated with heroin and its added Fentanyl. Even the fake pills Prince took had Fentanyl in them. They were, obviously not pharmacy supplied! So, it is the illegal lacing of pills and bags of heroin that is killing people. It is not their favorite way they like to use the term “over-prescribing”! I deal with a neurologist and an anesthesiologist/pain doctor that both brag that they have nno one with peripheral neuropathy on narcotics…(;-P

Well I guess you know how we feel about this article,lol.Why you would give it attention I have no idea.This California hippy mind over matter [edit] is exactly what the anti opioid bashers think we can replace our pain meds with.It will be said that this is great alternative for our “dangerous evil opioids”.They (the CDC and DEA)are starting to figure out that they took away or restricted a form of treatment with no viable replacement therapy.I believe they will say that just about any crazy therapy is better than a opioid regime.But the insurance companies know better and are not going to pay for mind games. So suffer is what CPPs will continue to do!

Bob Krebs

I can appreciate teaching people how to deal with pain anxiety to keep the anxiety from increasing your pain, but just “ignoring” your pain has never worked for me. And I have participated in two forms of chronic programs, each three week outpatient programs, and found they helped in dealing with anxiety increasing the pain.

In one of the programs a large portion was directed to ignoring your pain and going about your life! In this program, I wanted to tell them if I could do that I would not be there. After 35 years of cluster headaches, thankfully that finally stopped, that is impossible, just read about the pain intensity! And, after 58 years of migraines, I learned very early on as a teenage male who thought he could continue his activities with a severe migraine, that continuing on with my activities only increases the pain and duration. And it later life, after the various programs, I sometimes find myself having to keep going and it still only increases my pain and the duration.

Of course, I’m sure there are people that are helped much more in these programs than I, but there sure a lot of people that are not!

The draconian drug laws we have now do not allow doctors to differentiate between patients pain, and every person is different, especially with how they deal with pain and their pain levels.

Just because the drug laws say everybody is the same when in pain, does not make it true! Though the laws do say doctors can adjust accordingly, apparently the various and sundry government enforcement agencies do not recognize this in their actions!

They obviously never had an attack of trigeminal neuralgia, there ribs,crushing them, or there spine turning in several different ways, ribs popping out of place. You tell me how ur mind is gonna put all that back in place?

Adam G

Reading these comments both breaks and warms my heart. I have lived in pain for years, been misdiagnosed multiple times, I’ve done meditation, p.t., nerve blocks, been poked prodded and bent every way you could imagine. Spinal pain rules my life. And when it’s a bad day, it’s whole body pain. Just existing hurts. Now, meditation does have it’s benefits, I won’t deny that. It helps me slow down and accept the pain rather than fight it, most days. Accepting is not curing though. It doesn’t fix anything. Yes, it defuses the panic and desperation for escape, but it doesn’t remove them. I have been taking opioid for the last 3 years, as prescribed. I have never had to go in early for a refill, most months I have a couple left over. I am extremely proactive in finding ways to live with my pain, and looking into various ways of treating the pain aside from opioids. At the end of the day, these medications are the only relief I get.

Dr. Darnell, I am 33. I will likely live with this pain the rest of my life, just as this pain will likely continue to get worse for the rest of my life. So, when after a day consumed by a horrific flare up, a day that even with medication, creams, ice packs, and heating pads, I spent a stretch of time on my couch trying desperately not to weep in front of my family because if the agony I was in, when after a day like today I read this article….Well, to be quite frank I am disgusted. I can’t decide whether you and your “team” really believe what you are talking about, or just like the sound of your own voices. You’ve obviously never been in true agony. If you had been, you would know that all of the psychology in the world won’t bring you any relief. It is 2018, I had hoped that by this time in the world medicine would be about science, not witch doctors.

Stella Lendrum

I have to agree with the majority of you. I had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, was told 9 years ago that I have Lupus. Had my thyroid removed due to cancer, I have Addisons Disease and Interstitial Cystitis, among numerous disc problems. I go to a pain clinic every month and they possibly me off every month. You have to take your pill bottles back in and they count any pills left over. I take Percocet and M.S. Contin. They reduced my prescriptions and are always saying that I take too many opioids. I used to take four times this much. These dr.s and Pa’s haven’t a clue what chronic pain is. There are days when nothing works and all I can do is cry
and try to meditate. Then these clinocs make you feel like a criminal when you ask for more medication.


I think phineas quimby or other proponents of the new thought movement would do better than darnall in convincing people in pain about the power of mind over pain.
Its regrettable that darnall like so many of her epistemic community has created a false narrative that people in pain must accept their pain because darnall and her affiliates dont want to see pain cured. Theyd rather people spend the rest of their lives managing their pain.
The lack of caritas vision and moral imagination is evident in darnalls orientation to pain care.
I hope one day i can debate her and her certaintist affiliates on curing pain. Their vast darkness on curing pain would be unobscured. I guess as Plato said we can forgive a child when theyre afraid of the dark bit its tragic when adults fear the light.

Jan Poole

Why oh why do you put this psychobabble out there and give it a voice to try to make it seem credible????? For 19 years, I have lived with Intractable Pain, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), the SUICIDE Disease. I had a crush injury to both legs and feet resulting in complete destruction of my nerves, with muscle loss in both legs/feet. I wear braces, but can barely walk and the ER Dr.’s wanted to amputate both legs due to the ulceration.

I have tried everything and been on everything (nerve blocks, Oxycontin, Vicodin, Lyrica, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, Methadone, Fentanyl, benzodiazepines, a failed spinal cord stimulator operation, etc.). THE ONLY THING THAT WORKS ARE OIPIOIDS!!!!


Stop trying to sell this [edit] (excuse me, but I am so furious) to the ignorant public, let alone the real Painers who know what a load this is!

Maggie Andrea

It appears that Dr. Darnall is trying to brainwash pain patients that pain is not real. Is she taking the opportunity to speak to gain notoriety during the political issues on the laws that won’t allow treat their patients with opioids. Wait, the war on drugs hasn’t ever worked. Now people will get pain relief on the streets, which make it all worse for patients who actually benefit from opioids.


What happens when you cannot afford a psychologist and the pain has led you down a path of stopping and thinking and remembering past life long traumatic events. Non stop from childhood to the age 65 and there is no end in sight.
You never acknowledge I feel maybe the majority of people in this chronic pain who have no one else in their life.
Reality; me I could be dead for days and no one would know.
There are times when I am too unwell to even have dreadful unwanted medication (side effects ) yet alone use the correct cream on the right body area without paying a huge painful unchanged mistake.
I have a tens machine but I am unable to place it in areas of need.

Dr. Darnall,

Not every PT.’s medical situation will respond to your, or for that matter, any other Dr.’s proposed, ” Mind of Matter” proposed alternative. recommendation.

Granted, your a Dr., but you are not an expert on that PT.’s body and you do not know better, when it is that individual living in their own skin. Frankly, you are not living in their skin. I can tell you this, if you did I would feel the need to send a response.

Not every Pain Mgt. PT. is or will become an individual who misuses, abuses, or is indicative of a “soon-to-be-addict.” They have a chronic condition, no different than a diabetic or an individual with high blood pressure.

When an individual PT. has a chronic condition, and they have truly tried every suggestion/recommendation offered – realize when an already tried approach, which didn’t work, isn’t going to work this time, because some years have past. If it doesn’t work, it just does not. Realize when what your offering is not a solutions based approach.

You want PT.”s to be honest with you, but how honest are you when you deliberately know you cut the PT.’s medication and inflict more pain?

Please, Dr. do not put chronic pain Pt.’s in more pain by comparmentalizing us and labeling every opioid PT. as a “Risk.”

We are not a “Risk.” We need your help to manage our pain with what works and if, and when we say it is not working – realize it is not.

Nothing more nothing less.
Each chronic PT. is not just like your last or your next. Thanks for reading.

44y/o. 4 herniated discs. Former EMT. Instructional Designer – M.A.

Deb Sabolek

I crushed my spine at age 17 and I’m now 56 yrs old. I have had several decompressions, bone grafts, and hardware added over the yrs. Besides pain, I have arthritis and a couple other things I can’t spell. I have been on many pain meds, but have “weaned” myself to a Fentenyl patch 50 mcg. q 3 d.
I am very interested in your theory, but would it really work for someone like me? I feel I’m too far gone…my patch doesn’t cover my true pain. I already use prayer to get through what the patch doesn’t cover…and God isn’t always listening.

Michelle Gould

I wish these Doctors we’re speaking from personal knowledge and not something that they read about because living it is a whole different world. I am a chronic pain patient and I have a fantastic attitude most of the time. I work hard to use my affirmative thinking to make things better but that still doesn’t take away the real issues of our bodies not being normal & living with abnormal issues. My opinion is that which has caused the damage and pain is something you just can’t get around. Unless you can heal your body with or without the help of medical treatment all we can do is take some of this knowledge and apply it. But, can it help? Yes!, But, to an extent to eradicate it, in my opinion, absolutely not. Unless, we can repair our bodies physically, all this is is an aide like physical therapy. Keep in mind beyond our pain is life and all the good and bad. For some who do not have the resources available mentally and physically face even more challenges. This is an in perfect world and unfortunately all of us can not & will not for one reason or another have the same treatment across the board and not one person should be made to suffer and it should be the patients choice of which treatment is best for them as long as it’s not hurting others. Political views and others who do not have the knowledge of any one person’s chronic issues should be careful not to make choices for that individual unless it is between the patient and their doctor and know doctor should be influenced by political or other issues as the Doctors should be able to use their education and knowledge to help their patients without judgement.

Skeeter Langley

Ok I don’t know who this doctor is speaking for, but it sure isn’t Me!
I have been living with RSD/CRPS for over 14 years now. Most of the time my pain meds (opiates) do ok. But when I have a flare up nothing will touch it, no Jedi mind tricks that some of these doctors talk about would even touch it. So please don’t speak for me

Sandy M.

Hello, Obviously, Dr. Darnall does not know what REAL CHRONIC PAIN is. We have tried all the breathing, calming effects you speak of, in fact everytime I’m awake, I’m putting those skills to work and they do not work. I had a hemorrhagic stroke in the thalamus part of the brain, now you are not a neurologist, therefore, how do you know why, as a result of my hemorrhagic stroke in the thalamus, caused me to have Thalamic Pain Syndrome. My stroke was in 2001, I didn’t immediately take an opioid, I went thru PT, OT, several different times, went to several pain clinics, and tried to return to my job as a legal secretary. I no longer had any multi-task skills, I still can’t put a meal together, I was in such pain and I can take a lot of pain, with all I’ve been thru in my 70 years of life, beginning with Polio before I was 2 years old. I tried so hard to set depositions and do all the work I had done for over 35 years, but I was hurting, dropping huge files, they even hired someone to help me, my brain just did not function the way it once did. I had to quit my job and go on Disability thru my company and 24 months later, was required to file for Social Security. I went thru 4-5 years and a truckload of medications, starting NOT with an opioid, but with medications to try to help my PAIN. A pill for depression that helped, and went thru several medications for Spasticity and finally was put on Zanaflex, thank God, it helped me! I went thru the whole trial of Bacoflen, the generics and nothing but 2 brand name medications help my conditions. Neurontin and Zanaflex are the only 2 medications I take that I need the brand name. All this time in several different pain management clinics, I was not given medication, but injections, I have files full of the same injections I took 2-3 different times, every injection you know of. I was still seeing my neurologist who told me to stop with the injections, it would not help my condition. My neurologist has since retired, but had practiced and co-authored several medical books with a doctor from Canada. He said in all his over 45 years of practice, I was only the 2nd person that had “thalamic pain,” this type of pain, he said he understood it and it was horrific, horrible for a person to go thru and live with, but doctors did not know anything about it. I had been diagnosed with “Thalamic Pain Syndrome” by a Neurologist at the St. Louis University Hospital. He understood and knew about this type of pain, however, he left the area, and I found Dr. Joseph Hanaway, whom I had known for over 25 years and knew about this type of pain. The pain doctor at the last pain clinic I was going… Read more »

Linda Bagley

I was hit by a drunk driver on a motorcycle at age 17. Fractured Scull and broke about everything in body. Many, many surgeries later any years I have more arthritis than a 90 year old. I turn 64 today. Doctors have put me through her ever since the accident. Some people need pain medication, and I’ve been on them for 16 years in a controlled environment. My brain chemistry is completely changed. The system is closing so many clinics this has led to many deaths, and it’s not because of overdose. I’m so sick of being treated like a drug/heroin addict. I’ve followed every doctors orders, meditate/Prayer/ therapy everything. A lot of people can’t live without them. If you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again and help me through detox than don’t think your doing anything . My Doctor at Sutter in Castro Valley got me into Stanford. 3 Doctors talked to me for 15 minutes each and never followed up with anything. I know for sure it was because of my Insurance Medicare/Medical. Unless you’re rich or your insurance company is the best your not going to get help. I’ve prayed for 35 years to get into Stanford. It was the biggest farce I’ve ever seen!! Some of us truly need them to even be able to stand to be able to take care of ourselves. There’s been a law on the books for many years that a Dr. needs to do anything possible to keep a Diabetic walking so they don’t lose a limb. Why don’t you get me into Sanford and backup what you all say say your the best.


Dr Farnall you just don’t realise I’d,you,that we have learned to steer our nervous systems to calmness but untrained abusive doctors, especially primary are physicians destroy this and terrify us. We live in fear of their CRIMINAL ABUSE. NOT LIBEL IT IS TRUE. IHave even been sexually assaulted and assaulted with wounding for life by ED Nurses. The police at covering for them. You must say something about this, we need opiods as well, and at least four other painkillers as the body has five different types of lain receptor and opiods are the only drugs that act centrally. We have central pain (unless peripheral,but there is still a central element), 90% of my massive private spending on pain management, £22k pa, is on non medical management. You cannot use mind alone don’t be cruel. The only serious side effects I can specifically get from any pain doctor (yes qualified to Fellowship level), is sweating, constipation and itching. I think we can live,with those “life threatening” effects in exchange for pain relief. You have clearly never experienced severe long term pain yourself. Get me up on that platform I have a v high IQ and five post grad qualifications, four of them in psychological medicine.

Opiods save my life. Never ever have I taken more than prescribed. Spinal pain will ruin your life and those who abuse or sell their meds , They stigmatize us all. All are those who have chronic spinal pain , we are abused by those who think some psychological non sense helps. Turn the red buttons off Pain , and the white buttons on. Stop it already , rah , rah is stupid for those that suffer , really suffer.
Opiods are gift , the villain are You. Those who have died from Heroin overdoses , because their real pain is not dealt with. They go to the streets. Addiction is very painful. Tell them to have a great outlook.

Kathy C

So they want to export this nonsense overseas. What they don’t telly us in this Interview is how they tried to replace access to sensible Medical Care with “Psychology.” It is really kind of terrifying, how they are trying to replace the Facts. Psychology was not meant to replace Medical Care, yet that is exactly what they did. In order to perpetuate this farce they just avoided any “Studies” over time. When they limited these “Studies” to avoid long term outcomes, underlying Medical Conditions or real indicators of improvement, this mislead gullible people to believe there was something valid here. In Post Fact America, this profitable and deceptive nonsense will sound legitimate. After all it is about what people want to believe rather than the facts. In countries with good healthcare, this won’t get much traction.

Bob Schubring

There’s an enormous comprehension gap between Dr Darnall’s theory and real-world practice.

The missing bridge between theory and practice, is the role of Coercive Force in human relationships.

When a human is terrified that a bully will use force to inflict additional pain upon him or her, no amount of self-soothing thoughts can actually create a false sense of well-being. One’s sense of well-being depends on one’s concept of just how safe or unsafe one actually is.

Surveys have shown that about 25% of the US population believe that chronic pain does not exist. These Pain Deniers will inflict any imaginable sort of brutality upon others, because they refuse to recognize pain, even when the person suffering pain can be plainly observed to be suffering pain.

And about 33% of the US population, will at some time in their life, suffer a chronic pain that lasts for more than 30 days.

Money to pay for psychological therapists is not the big problem in pain perception. The real obstacle to pain care, is the bully population who insist that pain is not real, and then use force against patients that causes us additional pain.

Pain deniers who hold medical degrees or work in politics, are baffled at the existence of opposition to their various anti-patient schemes. Their bafflement is entirely due to their denial of a true fact, that people truly can suffer serious pain and require relief from it. We would find them laughable if, say, they were looking at a photograph of the round Earth shot from space, and told us that the Earth is still flat, despite appearances. But when the same ludicrous thinking is used to tell us that we’re “catastrophizing” instead of hurting, we don’t find it the least bit funny because it hurts too much to laugh.

Communication must be bi-directional. Psychological training that helps patients study the cause of their pain and learn ways of moving and performing tasks of daily living, that make the pain hurt less, clearly are important skills. But the therapist must understand how much pain the patient is in. A therapist who insists on weaning the patient off of all medicines, before beginning counseling, is going to make zero progress, because the patient is already in too much pain…the fact that the patient is seeking pain treatment is the proof of that.

I really wish Dr Darnall would learn how to qualify her remarks, so that she does not anger pain patients when she starts babbling about psychology. Too many of us assume we are about to be bullied, and react with our emotions, not really reading Dr Darnall’s words for what they mean.

Perhaps she just needs an education about how patients are bullied. In hopes that’s what she needs, that’s why I wrote this. Let’s hope we communicate.

S Cohen

Positive mind control to make pain easier to bear without opioids is wonderful news. I’m sure cancer patients are rejoicing to know their pain can be stifled without drugs. And the women with unrelenting pain from endometriosis are singing the praises of Dr Darnall. If you can just turn your negative thoughts to positive ones, you will stop suffering.

Those who experience such pain would love to find relief in any possible way. If I could talk myself or think myself out of pain, I’d gladly do it. But voodoo doesn’t work for me.


It seems that it is fairly easy to “tell” someone in continuous pain how to manage their pain pscychologically possibly with some medication. Been there. Done that long ago. It doesn’t work for doctor surgical eff ups.Let patients use what works now, while the “experts” talk about how to best manage our pain.We understand that medication may not be the best answer to manage some pain issues but, we also realize that medicarion may be the only relief for some pain conditions too.


Ed, I have a number of notes sent to Ms. Darnall of which NO replies.

I realize u will edit this so…pls ask her to differentiate between CRPS 24/7 INTRACTABLE pain (1 in 1.5 mill) vs the more common forms of chronic pain. Check the pain scale. There is a huge difference. U can’t even approach to exercise mental techniques UNLESS u stop the refractory nature of pain. Pls also, ask her how much her dept relies on Govt funding.

Thank u sinserely for what u do.

I realize I’m a layperson and this is an interview of someone much more educated than I, however, the idea of “thinking away your pain” is just non-sensical to me. I’ve been in pain 24/7/365 and have found barely any relief. Opiates worked for a little while but they’re not designed for.chronic pain & I just had to keep upping the dose. Finally it got top the point where all I was experiencing were the side effects & none of the relief ao I got off. I now take absolutely nothing for my pain b/c there’s nothing left to try; I’ve been trying to find something to ease my pain for over 15 years since I was diagnosed, but there’s nothing. I have a law degree I can’t use (but still have to pay the gov’t $100,000 in loans for my useless education) and I can’t even begin to live up to my potential because big pharma doesn’t want to cure anything, they just want more money in their coffers. Pathetic. I no longer trust most doctors nor big pharma. I’m going to find a way to heal myself (or at least find enough relief to be a contributing member of society again) with natural vitamins & supplements. No more poisonous pharmaceuticals in my body. I’d prefer to use kratom, ice/heat, & medical marijuana. No side effects. Now, if I could find something natural to help my chronic fatigue besides d-ribose or DLPA (l think that’s the acronym), I’d be able to function at a level I haven’t been able to for close to 20 years. That would be my own personal miracle.

Tony Hardy

I ment most doctors refuse to treat you for mental health issues if you are in pain management. So people have to choose mental health or physical health. And its sad to say but it depends on your race too. If you are a illegal immigrant they bend over backwards to help you and they don’t have to pay for doctors visits or medication which is totally unfair.

Steven Smith

I’m sure the young people who are replacing decades of opiate therapy that has been working with this kind of treatment mean well but they simply just don’t understand pain and its effects. I’m talking about pain that goes on and on and is severe that nothing can be done for this simply is going to lead to the end of most patients that put up with such pain but only with opiates. I remember not so long ago Dr were sworn to do no harm.! This is an absolute travesty

Jim Moulton

I am sorry, but I don’t buy it, she has been advocating for awhile, it looks like. I worked in a couple of psychiatric facilities, plus I have bi-polar disorder, she is mentioning relaxation and breathing. I just can’t see this working for everyone, a lot of our patients had chronic pain which was treated by pain meds.

Tim Mason

I am curious how mind control would work in the presence of Intractable Pain where an organic cause has been identified by MRI or other significant diagnostic tool.
The type of pain I speak of is one where nerves are affected and identified as the causative entity.
This type of pain is of the nature that can put a patient in shock or cause cardiac damage if experienced long term,
This type of pain must be experienced to be understood.
Good article, great concept. What are the limitations of mind control over pain,
Can a person use his or her mind to will away the pain of a broken hip just suffered in a fall?


Seriously??? You paid for Dr. Darnell to speak at your forum?

I wonder how many days she has been able to set her mind so that her 10 day siege of a severe chronic migraine (rated 10) went away or she was just willing to function with it?

Clearly she does not suffer from severe chronic pain!
It is not a mental issue. It is a neurological disorder.

Jodi Kennedy

I would like to know if Beth Darnell has ever suffered from chronic pain and if she has used these techniques herself. I would also like to mention that spine stimulator companies that are saying opioids have health effects aren’t doing this because they care about people in chronic pain they’re simply wanting to make money off their spinal cord stimulators and our pain. I can see them leading the charge in making pain medication even more difficult to get than it is now. Not for our benefit due to health concerns but simply to line their own pockets.