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Lecture 3

ANTHROP 3HI3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Narrative, Pain Scale, Xerostomia

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Priscilla Medeiros

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Anthro 3HI3
Week 3
January 23rd, 2018
The Anthropology of Pain:
-Anthropology has an approach that is meant to conceptualize the experience of pain
-Experiences of pain are very personal and subjective
Defining Pain:
- We tend to draw from the sciences and think of pain as biological
- Generally, think of pain as an outward manifestation
- Defining aligns with disease model
- Fails to consider social and cultural influences
- Pain is an inseparable part of everyday life
- Many forms of healing or diagnosis also involve some form of pain
o Biopsy or injection
o There is also social, psychological, and cultural pain happening at this time as
- Pain is most likely the most common feeling in a clinical setting
- Pain is very hard to measure
- The experience of pain doesn’t only affect the person who is directly feeling the pain, but
it affects the people around them as well
Chronic Pain:
- Poses problems for sufferer and for those around them
- Leads to frustration and distrust in practitioners who are unable to explain or effectively
treat their illnesses
o Can cause people to end up feeling hopeless
- Often intimately linked to social and psychological problems
o Interpersonal tensions can sometimes cause someone to experience chronic pain
- There is not one response to deal with someone’s pain, because pain is dependent on that
- Not easily black and white, they are much more complex
-Chronic pain is a counterpart to acute pain
- Chronic pain is long term
oIt is ongoing and can persist after injuries heal, and can get worse and worse as
time goes on
o Acute pain is much more short-term
o Acute pain is/can be a result of manipulating the body

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Related to soft tissue damage and the result of healing tissue
o It is very important to understand the difference between these two definitions or
categories of pain
Classifying Pain Behaviour:
1. Private Pain: To know whether a person is in pain, we are dependent on that person
signaling that fact to us, either verbally or nonverbally
a. Often invisible and difficult to communicate to others
b. Can result in a sense of isolation
c. When pain originate within the body it is often invisible
i. When we can’t see a cause of pain, it can be difficult to acknowledge the
actual existence of this pain
d. The absence of pain behavior does not necessarily mean an absence of pain
e. Typically, only those really close to the individual will understand that you’re in
pain from your signs
f. Living with private pain is often in silence
- Ex. Someone suffering from depression
- Someone taking Advil for a migraine
- Howard closing himself in his room, with all the lights off
2. Public Pain: Depends on the person’s interpretation of the significance of pain
a. Attitudes towards pain are acquired early in life
b. Ideals of pain tend to change over time
c. There can be a crossover from private to public
d. More severe pain is typically brought to the attention of others
e. Cultural expectations typically decide whether a certain pain requires medical
i. These are important in our society
ii. These are constantly changing
f. This implies that there is a general, culturally understood idea of what pain is
- Ex. Howard carrying around his pillow is an outward sign of public pain (especially for
those in the workforce)
- Someone using an inhaler
- Someone walking with a cane (chronic back pain, maybe)
Authenticity of Pain Experience:
- There is a shared experience that all patients are trying to authenticate their pain
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