Original Paper


, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 265-276

First online:

The Ethical Pain

Detection and Management of Pain and Suffering in Disorders of Consciousness
  • Michele FariscoAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Pontifical Faculty of Theology of Southern Italy, ‘S. Tommaso d’Aquino’, Naples Email author 

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The intriguing issue of pain and suffering in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOCs), particularly in Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome/Vegetative State (UWS/VS) and Minimally Conscious State (MCS), is assessed from a theoretical point of view, through an overview of recent neuroscientific literature, in order to sketch an ethical analysis. In conclusion, from a legal and ethical point of view, formal guidelines and a situationist ethics are proposed in order to best manage the critical scientific uncertainty about pain and suffering in DOCs and ensure the best possible care for the patient.


Disorders of consciousness Vegetative State Minimally Conscious State Pain Suffering Clinical ethics