The ordinary language of pain and medical education

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There is a deficit within medical education in terms of understanding pain a s part of the wider move towards shared decision making (SDM), and particularly in the area of general practice. The aim of this paper is to consider, from a Wittgensteinian perspective, how pain is a managed discourse within these consultations. Talk about pain is part of what Wittgenstein refers in his Philosophical Investigations as embedded within language games. In medical consultations there are ways of talking about pain, either directly or indirectly, which are part-and-parcel of an interactional event and which impact on the degree to which SDM is engaged in. The paper contrasts a discourse analytic perspective with a Wittgensteinian one with reference to an example of talk about pain within a medical consultation. This example serves as a means of highlighting the benefits of the latter approach for medical education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Journal of International Education Research
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Pain
  • Language
  • Medical education
  • Wittgenstein


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