In 1864, W. Mitchell and colleagues first described the clinical syndrome which came to be known as 'causalgia'. Since that time, the concept of sympathetically related pain has evolved. There is general agreement that profound emotional and behavioural changes can follow these types of pain. Opinions have varied widely on the issue of a psychological etiology. It has often been suggested that certain personality traits predispose one to develop sympathetically related pain syndromes. A review of the literature reveals no valid evidence to substantiate this claim.