The aim of this study was to test whether enmeshment of self and pain predicted adjustment (depression and acceptance) in a chronic pain population. 89 chronic pain patients completed standardized self-report measures of depression and acceptance and generated characteristics describing their current actual self, hoped-for self and feared-for self, and made judgments about the degree to which their future possible selves (hoped-for and feared-for) were dependent on the absence or presence of pain, i.e. enmeshed with pain. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that after accounting for the influence of demographics (age, gender), pain characteristics and the degree of role interference attributable to pain, the proportion of hoped-for self characteristics that could be achieved even with the presence of pain predicted the magnitude of depression and acceptance scores. The findings are discussed with reference to the enmeshment hypothesis and theories of self-discrepancy, self-regulation and hopelessness. © 2005 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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