The Culture of Pain

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University of California Press, Sep 9, 1991 - Literary Criticism - 354 pages
2 Reviews
This is a book about the meanings we make out of pain. The greatest surprise I encountered in discussing this topic over the past ten years was the consistency with which I was asked a single unvarying question: Are you writing about physical pain or mental pain? The overwhelming consistency of this response convinces me that modern culture rests upon and underlying belief so strong that it grips us with the force of a founding myth. Call it the Myth of Two Pains. We live in an era when many people believe--as a basic, unexamined foundation of thought--that pain comes divided into separate types: physical and mental. These two types of pain, so the myth goes, are as different as land and sea. You feel physical pain if your arm breaks, and you feel mental pain if your heart breaks. Between these two different events we seem to imagine a gulf so wide and deep that it might as well be filled by a sea that is impossible to navigate.   
 

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A tour de force.This book has to be amongst the best books to understand what pain is all about. The author has made painstaking efforts to understand pain from the time of the ancient greeks to modern times. His knowledge about and command of the many traditions from religion to philosophy to medicine to modern culture makes this a must have for those wanting to understand pain from a historical and cultural perspective. In addition, the person in pain can learn from the many insights throughout history that the author shares.
They don't make books like this anymore and for people in pain or those who are passonate about understanding pain this book has no parallel.
 

Contents

LIVING PAIN MYSTERY OR PUZZLE?
9
THE MEANINGS OF PAIN
31
AN INVISIBLE EPIDEMIC
57
THE PAIN OF COMEDY
79
HYSTERIA PAIN AND GENDER
103
VISIONARY PAIN AND THE POLITICS OF SUFFERING
125
PAIN IS ALWAYS IN YOUR HEAD
152
THE USES OF PAIN
174
PAINFUL PLEASURES BEAUTY AND AFFLICTION
198
SEX PAIN AND THE MARQUIS DE SADE
224
TRAGIC PAIN
244
THE FUTURE OF PAIN
267
Notes
291
Index
337
Copyright

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Page 15 - Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with straight regular streets and uniform houses.
Page 16 - An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage'.

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About the author (1991)

David B. Morris resigned in 1982 from the University of Iowa, where he was professor of English, to move to Michigan and devote himself to writing. An earlier book, Alexander Pope: The Genius of Sense (1984), won the Gottshalk Price of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

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