Chapter 3: Sport, Violence and Pain
Men, spinal cord injury, memories and the narrative performance
By:Andrew C.Sparkes and Brett Smith
• Best (person’s name) critiqued social constructionist views of pain. Social constructionist try to debiologize the body and think it is
only a social construction. But Best argues against this by saying: “there is more to pain than just signification and narrative. The
body also feels pain”.
• Leder (person’s name) says pain is an aversive (disliked), sensory experience that hurts. He also says that narrative plays an
important role in how people understand of the experience of pain.
• The period of initial acute phase of rehabilitation following spinal cord injury will help to illuminate the process of narration in
relation to the memories of pain these rugby players experienced.
Autobiographical memories of pain:
• Episodic memory is closely linked to autobiographical memories that chronologically sequences significant events in a life and it is
best taken with a grain of salt.
• There is a self-defining function to autobiographical memory. It organizes our knowledge about ourselves.
• Narratives are identity performances.
• Memories refer to the retelling of the past from the experience of the present. They are a partial, selective weaving together of
events that are not connected to one another necessarily.
• Neuropathic pain: occurs in areas where there is normal sensation but also where there is little or no feeling after injury. Men said
it is very difficult to articulate their experiences of neuropathic pain.
• Ex: Douglas said I couldn’t express my feelings. Being in pain is lonely.
• Ex: Harry said I could not find the words. It was a very lonely time.
• Pain is sometimes beyond narrative (words) as it induces self-reflection and isolation.
• Pain can resist and destroy language= communication of experiences is silenced, sufferer and body become disconnected from
their relationships to other bodies.
• The storying of pain is initiated when metaphors, adjectives are used to describe the sensations.
• Ex: Richard said pain was overwhelming and like an electric shock, Harry said it was a burning sensation, others said sharp and
• The act of naming of pain is expressed ands shaped by the cultural and narrative resources the individual has access to.
• Ex: Harry said electric shock because he grew up in a Western technological society.
• Liminal Zone: a state of being in between words; between their past as able bodied men and their future as disabled men. In this
zone, participants welcomed the neuropathic pain they experienced.
• Pain was taken to indicate that the body was not totally broken, that things were still happening in the spine and that SCI was
• Ex: Rob said I was in a lot of pain but that was a sign I was alive. I could have easily died.
• Ex: Phil said he was thankful for pain. Since he was still alive.
• Ex: Paul said he was relieved that he felt pain.
• Pain did not take over the individual but it allowed participants to make meaning out of their situation and to refrain pain as
purposeful and positive.
• Hiding pain is a common strategy for athletes whose embodied experiences and ways of expression are shaped by hegemonic
• This masculine code legitimizes what can and what cannot be said as an acceptable telling of a pain story.
• Ex: Paul said he did not want to be a sissy, Dan said he did not want to be a wimp.
• Ex: Rob hid his pain by keeping it to himself.
• David said telling others of pain would knock out the identity of his manhood. • The ability of hiding the pain becomes hard as the drugs used to alleviate the pain wear off and the pin is too much. Pain becomes
Locked in Pain
• Participants were physically constrained. The body is now out of the control of the individual.
• Feelings of losing control are enhanced since they cannot retreat from the gaze of others during rehab.
• Ex: Eamonn said he felt trapped and that he just wanted to not be around anyone.
• Ex: Dan said he felt like he was in a prison.
• Pain brings everyone towards you, like a centripetal force that sucks in space and time.
• Nurses tried to help paul, but he denied their help.
• Pain has an ambiguous and contradictory nature in that it can call others to help it while at the same, trying to stay away from
people. Pain is also contradictory b/c men appear to try to hide the pain but at the same time , pain can force them into being
• In making sense of our experiences we not only tell stories about our bodies, we also tell stories out of and through our bodies.
• The experience of disability involves dealing with socio=structural barriers, the material body and the effects of impairment.
• It should be possible to understand the impaired body as simultaneously biological, material and social. Abio-social character.
• The words of the men are not those of the historical self and the pe