Impact of Written Emotional Disclosure and Gender on Capsaicin-Induced Inflammation, Allodynia, and Spontaneous Pain



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Prior research has shown that affective valence and arousal interact to alter pain perception. One personally relevant method of inducing affective states is the written emotional disclosure procedure. The current study examined the immediate effects of written emotional disclosure on secondary hyperalgesia, flare, and spontaneous pain in healthy undergraduate men and women. Fifty-five men and women undergraduates participated in an IRB approved experiment in which they wrote about a traumatic or neutral event fro twenty minutes. After writing, the participants underwent pain perception testing for area of secondary hyperalgesia, flare, and spontaneous pain. Results indicated that women writing about a traumatic experience rated their spontaneous pain as more intense than those writing about a neutral topic, whereas males did not. In addition, men showed greater physiological arousal and area of flare than women. These findings suggest that men and women experience different affective and pain modulatory reactions to written emotional disclosure, though the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated.