Encyclopedia of Pain

2007 Edition

Hypervigilance and Attention to Pain

  • Geert Crombez
  • Stefaan Van Damme
  • Christopher Eccleston
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-29805-2_1825


Heightened Vigilance; Overalertness; Heightened Attention


 Hypervigilance to pain or somatic sensations is the excessive tendency to attend to pain/somatic sensations, or the excessive readiness to select pain-related information over other information from the environment. In the context of pain, hypervigilance is assumed to be initiated and maintained by its immediate threat value.  Pain-related fear and  Catastrophic Thinking have often been found to be strong predictors of hypervigilance to pain.


Chapman (1978) was one of the first to apply the construct of (hyper)vigilance to somatic sensations and pain. He referred to hypervigilance as a perceptual habit of scanning of the body for somatic sensations. Hypervigilance was thought to be an emergent property of the threat value of pain. People who appraise bodily sensations as dangerous were thought to be more likely to develop a habit of scanning the body for threatening sensations. His view is...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geert Crombez
    • 1
  • Stefaan Van Damme
    • 1
  • Christopher Eccleston
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Clinical and Health PsychologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Pain Management UnitUniversity of BathBathUK