KINE 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 19: Hegemonic Masculinity, Centripetal Force, Autobiographical Memory

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Men, Spinal Cord Injury, Memories and the Narrative Performance of Pain (Sport, Violence
and Pain) by Andrew C. Sparkes and Brett Smith
This articles uses data received from life history interviews with a small group of men
(14 men from UK) who experienced spinal cord injuries (SCI) through playing sport
(union rugby) and defined themselves as disabled
Attention is given to the themes of unspeakable pain, naming pain, welcomed pain,
hidden pain, and locked in pain
Best (2007) provided a general critique of social constructivist views, on pain with
regards to disability and impairment, which he feels attempt a debiologization of the
body and view the body solely as a socio-historical construct
oBest stated: “there is more to pain than signification and narrative … Language
and metaphor may well be vehicles for making sense of bodily sensations and
actions, but this is not the same as the suggestion that bodily experiences solely
exist at the level of language and metaphor”
Certainly, for those in pain the biological, fleshy, corporeal body is the primary focus of
their experience
oLeder stated: “most basically, pain effects a sensor intensification in which a
region of the body that my have previously given forth little in the form of
sensory stimuli suddenly speaks up. Pain is a unique qualitative feel that sets it
off from other sensory experiences: namely it hurts. Pain is unpleasant and
Although, there is much to pain that signification and narrative (such as the
physiological and the biological aspect), narrative plays an important role in how people
come to understand and make sense of experiences like pain
Various forms of analyses have been applied to the data, such as categorical content
analysis, a holistic (different parts are interconnected and participate in defining the
whole) form analysis, and a categorical form analysis
In this article, the themes that were identified in the data based on a categorical content
analysis is talked about
In order to show the process of narration, the authors focus on a period of the athlete’s
oThis period is the initial acute phase of rehabilitation following SCI that they
experienced between 4-20 years ago
oDuring this period, dramatic life saving procedures were performed and the
paralyzed person with SCI was immobilized to allow for stabilization of the
oIf all goes well, stabilization usually occurs in 6-12 weeks and the patient moves
from the stabilization phase to the rehabilitation phase, where all the
participants experienced excruciating pain
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Although there comes a time in this phase that due to the neurochemical
changes, pain is not felt anymore but pain is not forgotten and it still
becomes the subject of narration
Autobiographical Memories of Pain
Reminder form the authors: the focus of our attention is on the participants’ memories
of pain when they inhabited a particular kind of body, how they felt about this and how
they dealt with it during their time in rehab
oThe authors are using the semantic memory (conceptual and factual knowledge
memory) and the episodic memory (personal stories/incidents memory)
Regarding autobiographical memory, Eakin (1999) pointed out that it socially and
culturally constructed and its reporting is a form of storytelling about past experiences
There is also a self-defining function to autobiographical memory in that it organizes our
knowledge about ourselves
oThrough the story we tell to ourselves and others, we explain who we are, what
we are and were we are in life at the time
When dealing with autobiographical memory, Neisser (1994) cautioned us to be aware
of the following categories:
oActual past events and the old self that participated in them
oThe events as they were experienced and what the individual thought of
themselves at that time
oThe remembering self, which is the individual retelling those past events
oThe new self that is constructed when the person recalls those past events
Basically, autobiographical memories are not the truth or the facts of the past; they are
partial, selective weaving together of events, person and feelings that are not
necessarily connected to one another and so they should be taken lightly and with a
grain of salt (we should not easily trust them)
Unspeakable Pain
For all the participants in this study pain had neuropathic causes; this is not surprising,
since neuropathic pain is caused by damage or dysfunction in the nervous, including the
spinal cord
The men in the study initially found it very difficult to articulate their subjective
experience of the neuropathic pain they ha following SCI during their rehab
oPain is sometimes beyond narrative, it is inexpressible (can be expressed) and
therefore it is unsharable and this makes the patient feel alone
“Whatever pain achieves, it achieves through its unsharability, and it ensures this
unsharability through its resistance to language… physical pain does not resist language
but actively destroys it” (Scarry 1985)
oThe ability of pain to resist and destroy language ensures that the
communication of personal meaning and experiences are temporarily or
permanently silenced
oIn the silent situation mentioned above, the sufferer and his painful body
become disconnected from their relationship to other bodies (friends and
families, nurses and doctors) and the individual is isolated
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