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Lecture 5

ANTHROP 3HI3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Pain Scale, Pain Management, Invisibility

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ANTHROP 3PD3 Lecture 05
January 21, 2016 January 21, 2016
Priscilla Medeiros, 1
The Anthropology of PainPart 2
A Review of Chronic Pain:
We often think of pain is biological and physiological however, they are in fact shaped
by social and cultural factors as well
Child-rearing practices help shape attitudes towards and expectations of pain
o Rudolph’s Mother: Chronic Headaches takes pain killers for them
§ Show that attitudes towards pain is shaped early in life and is shaped by
our interactions à people tell us what is normal and abnormal pain
o i.e. a child falling down parents will tell the child they are fine child will
understand that the pain is normal and okay
Pain is an inseparable part of everyday life
o Rudolph high level of pain in daily activities such as work, but feels relief when
he is at home alone (in his own comfort area)
Pain behaviour masks the underlying psychological state of an individual
o Patients that cannot communicate pain adequately may not be able to convey
the true extent of their pain
Meanings of Pain:
History and environment shape meanings of pain
Local environments generate or exacerbate feelings of hopelessness
o Chronic pain is worsened by
Exact cause of chronic pain remains poorly understood
o Sex and gender, ethnicity. Class, family history, previous experiences, etc.
Chronic pain over 15 years
Inability to finish school, fear of getting diseases, and having a low paying job make
Rudolph’s pain worse
o Maximal levels of stress and anxiety cause pain to worsen
Chronic Pain: The Invisible Disease:
Pain can be hidden, invisible, absent, and most of all an isolating experience
Chronic conditions are not always obvious to the observer hence the “invisible
Symptoms will vary and not be physical, making it difficult to diagnose
o About women living with chronic pain
o Chronic pain“pain that lasts over three months” (biomedical definition)
o Anne - Mother of Two (Bone in Spine shift forwards)
§ More pain caused after she had kids and had an office job
§ Has gone through a lot of treatments giving in to having a surgery
§ Affects her daily living
§ Taken an emotional toll on the family
“Nothing I can do to help her”
Hard to balance mom and homework and school, etc.
§ Toll on the individual:
Hard to mask the pain people think that you’re well enough to do
something on your own, but they don’t know that you’re in pain
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