Reinventing Pain

David B. Morris

in Illness and Culture in the Postmodern Age

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780520208698
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520926240 | DOI:
Reinventing Pain

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Pain is no doubt as ancient as illness. Among its other functions and burdens central to the experience of illness, pain serves as the most common symptom that brings patients to doctors. The basis of postmodern medical thinking about pain is a distinction between acute and chronic. Usually a few aspirin tablets will reduce the hurt of acute pain. Chronic pain, by contrast, lingers, torments, and threatens to stay forever. Almost unknown as a diagnosis in medical writings before the twentieth century, chronic pain now grips so many people in the postmodern era that it is commonly and justifiably described as an epidemic. This chapter notes that people need to recognize in what ways its changing social and medical history transforms pain into an emblem of the new world of postmodern illness.

Keywords: postmodern illness; acute pain; chronic pain; medical writings

Chapter.  9835 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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