What is pain? Has the experience of pain always been the same? How is pain related to the emotions, to culture, and to pleasure? What happens to us when we feel pain? How does pain work in the body and in the brain?
In this Very Short Introduction, Rob Boddice explores the history, culture, and medical science of pain. Charting the shifting meanings of pain across time and place, he focusses on how the experience and treatment of pain have changed. He describes historical hierarchies of pain experience that related pain to social class and race, and the privileging of human states of pain over that of other animals. From the pain concepts of classical antiquity to expressions of pain in contemporary art, and modern medical approaches to the understanding, treatment, and management of pain, Boddice weaves a multifaceted account of this central human experience. Ranging from neuroscientific innovations in experimental medicine to the constructionist arguments of social scientists, pain is shown to resist a timeless definition. Pain is physical and emotional, of body and mind, and is always experienced subjectively and contextually.
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