Thinking through the pain

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2 Scopus citations


For many decades, the care of people in chronic pain has vexed caregivers, challenged policymakers, and bedeviled the lives of people seeking relief from low back pain, migraines, arthritis, and other ailments. In two books—Pain: A Political History (2014) and Dying in the City of the Blues (2001)—I have argued that controversy over pain care persists because pain is at once a clinical, a cultural, and a political problem. The questions surrounding people in pain are fraught. Are complainants truly in the pain they claim to endure, and how do we know? And if so, what type of relief do they need or deserve? Is painkiller drug relief counterproductive, leading to addiction? Are disability benefits warranted? To say that pain is political is merely to recognize the deep connection between these questions of clinical judgment and swirling dilemmas surrounding social welfare in America. surrounding social welfare in America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number648052
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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