Talking about pain: occurrences, abstractions and frustrations

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter considers, from an ordinary language philosophy perspective, how people talk about pain in terms of occurrences, abstractions, and frustrations. Pain, and especially chronic pain, is something that can occur in a come-and-go manner in particular circumstances, or in a regular or irregular manner and with variable severity. Talking about such occurrences can prove difficult and frustrating, particularly in the course of medical consultations. Discussing pain in these consultations requires that doctors and patients use ordinary everyday language to both describe and assess a medical condition. This kind of talk requires a degree of abstraction in describing pain. From a medical point of view, and in general, this gives talk about pain a dualistic character in terms of references to both particular occurrences and abstractions about its qualities. Such references can range over matters that deal with specific features, as well as those that are independent of these, such as, bodily location, severity, susceptibility, temporal occurrence, and phenomenological qualities. The chapter argues that this tension – focusing on particularities and abstractions – make attempts to individuate people’s experiences of pain, particularly in medical encounters, frustrating.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPain without boundaries
    Subtitle of host publicationinquiries across cultures
    EditorsRoy F. Fox, Nicole Monteiro
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9781848883161
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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