Pain undermines mind-body dichotomies: the cry ‘it hurts, here!’ is both an assertion about the localisation of pain in the body as well as a testimony to amorphous suffering. This stream in the Birkbeck Trauma Project explores the languages that people seize hold of in order to communicate their pain. It also addresses questions about the nature of suffering in the past and today. How have people interpreted unpleasant sensations? What role does pain play in clinical encounters between patients, doctors, and nurses? Is pain a productive force (as in much religious literature) or solely destructive? ‘Pain’ does not emerge naturally from physiological processes, but in negotiation with social worlds. How have people learnt to conduct themselves when suffering? When face to face with the contorted body and inarticulate groans of a person-in-pain, why do some witnesses turn away? We focus particularly on
- the history of religious, medical, and scientific ideas about pain;
- clinical encounters;
- the pain of childbirth;
- sexual violence;
- and the language of suffering.
More information about the Birkbeck Pain Project.
The ‘Perspectives on Pain‘ issue of 19. Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century includes eight open-access, peer reviewed essays on pain.