The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers
Everyone knows what it feels like to be in pain. Scraped knees, toothaches, migraines, giving birth, cancer, heart attacks, and heartaches: pain permeates our entire lives. We also witness other people - loved ones - suffering, and we 'feel with' them.
It is easy to assume this is the end of the story: 'pain-is-pain-is-pain', and that is all there is to say. But it is not. In fact, the way in which people respond to what they describe as 'painful' has changed considerably over time. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example, people believed that pain served a specific (and positive) function - it was a message from God or Nature; it would perfect the spirit. 'Suffer in this life and you wouldn't suffer in the next one'. Submission to pain was required. Nothing could be more removed from twentieth and twenty-first century understandings, where pain is regarded as an unremitting evil to be 'fought'.
Focusing on the English-speaking world, this book tells the story of pain since the eighteenth century, addressing fundamental questions about the experience and nature of suffering over the last three centuries. How have those in pain interpreted their suffering - and how have these interpretations changed over time? How have people learnt to conduct themselves when suffering? How do friends and family react? And what about medical professionals: should they immerse themselves in the suffering person or is the best response a kind of professional detachment?
As Joanna Bourke shows in this fascinating investigation, people have come up with many different answers to these questions over time. And a history of pain can tell us a great deal about how we might respond to our own suffering in the present - and, just as importantly, to the suffering of those around us.
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THE STORY OF PAIN: From Prayer to PainkillersUser Review - Kirkus
A scholarly treatise on how pain and those who suffer from it have been regarded over the past three centuries in the Western world. Bourke (History/Birkbeck Coll., Univ. of London; What It Means to ... Read full review
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acute admitted agony anaesthetics analgesics animals Archives argued being-in-pain birth bodily pain brain British Medical Journal chloroform Christian chronic pain claimed Clinical communicate Culture death described diagnosis Diseases distress doctor dying effect Elaine Scarry emotional example experience experienced facial expressions feel figurative languages gestural languages Glasgow God’s Harriet Martineau headache Henry human illness infants instance James John Journal of Nursing June Leriche Letter London Hospital Gazette Mark Zborowski McGill Pain Questionnaire Medical Association Medicine Melzack metaphors mind narratives nature nerve nervous system observed operation Oxford Pain Management Pain Questionnaire pain relief pain-event pain-narratives patients people-in-pain people’s person person-in-pain Peter Mere Latham physical physicians René Leriche Robert McNamee Ronald Melzack Science sensations Silas Weir Mitchell simply social Society suffering surgeon Surgery Surgical sympathetic sympathetic nervous system sympathy symptoms tion Townend Treatise University of Oxford University Press Wellcome Collection William witnesses woman women words wounded York young