Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome, which mostly affects middle age women and whose etiological factors remain unclear. Psychosocial aspects may have a relevant role as predisposing, triggering, and/or perpetuating factors for this syndrome, raising the interest about life history of patients with fibromyalgia. In this study, we interviewed 10 women with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, who had identified a critical or very stressful life event before the onset of the syndrome. The interview about the life history comprises the whole life, before and after the onset of the syndrome, and the narratives were analyzed with interpretative phenomenological analysis. Nine themes emerged: struggle, focus on adversities, positive overlaps the negative, scars of unhappy childhood, help others, perfectionism and desire to achieve, unsatisfactory present, perception of injustice, and keep feelings inside. A difficult life history is prevalent in these women and the themes identified are discussed in their relation with other qualitative studies and their possible role as predisposing and perpetuating factors for fibromyalgia. The ability to value the positive side of things, despite the adversities these women emphasized, is highlighted as an aspect to explore in psychological intervention, to enable a better management of this syndrome.


Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), Life History, Psychology

Author Bio(s)

Barbara Gonzalez, PhD, is an assistant professor in the School of Psychology and Life Sciences of University Lusófona of Humanities and Technologies, Lisbon, Portugal. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Barbara Gonzalez at, Email: barbaragonz@hotmail.com Barbara Gonzalez, Telmo M. Baptista, and Jaime C. Branco 540

Telmo M. Baptista, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Psychology of University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Telmo Baptista at E-mail: telmob@campus.ul.pt

Jaime C. Branco, PhD, is an aggregate professor in the Faculty of Medical Sciences of New University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.


This research was supported by grants from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

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