Ellette K. DiPietro, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Martha Straus, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Barbara Belcher-Timme, PsyD, Committee Member
  • Victor Pantesco, EdD, Committee Member


chronic pain, self-forgiveness, affect, interpretative phenomenological analysis

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This dissertation describes a qualitative study exploring associations between self-forgiveness and pain perception in the narratives of women with chronic pain. Quantitative research has demonstrated strong relationships among chronic pain, affect, and health, and among forgiveness, affect, and health. The largely unexplored overlap between these areas suggests the possibility of an inverse relationship between self-forgiveness and pain perception. A single preliminary study was found in the research literature supporting this relationship (Carson et al., 2005). A literature review explores the construct of forgiveness, differentiates religious and psychological conceptualizations, distinguishes other from self-forgiveness, and touches on the connections among forgiveness, health, and wellbeing. Chronic pain is defined, advances in the understanding of pain, pain pathways, and the evolutionary co-opting of the sensory system for affective signals are discussed, as are the multiple impacts of chronic pain. The individual experience of chronic pain and self-forgiveness has not yet been represented in the research literature. An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) design was used to understand how self-forgiveness appears in the narratives of four women experiencing chronic pain and if it interacts with the pain experience. Self-report instruments were used descriptively to supplement the interviews. Narratives were consistent with the pain and forgiveness literature but the anticipated overlap was not clear. Survey results also did not demonstrate a clear relationship between pain severity and self-forgiveness. The reasons why this might be the case are discussed.


Ellette K. DiPietro

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-2377-2826