Connotations of Pain in a Socio-Psycho-Biological Framework

  • John Quintner
  • Melanie Galbraith
  • Milton Cohen



From the dawn of civilization pain has received special attention as part of “dis-ease.” In recent years, pain has emerged as a clinical problem worthy of study in its own right. Changing concepts on the phenomenology of pain have flowed as a continuous process from the most ancient writings on medicine to the present day. Because of its multidimensional properties, pain is now viewed in a socio-psycho-biological framework.


The major milestones in the history of pain theory from a Greco-Judeo-Christian perspective have been reviewed in order to provide a background to the different connotations or meanings of pain that have emerged in Western society.


Many contemporary connotations of pain mirror those found in the language used by ancient Greek philosophers and others. However, some have evolved to reflect negatively upon pain sufferers.


As these negative connotations can give rise to stigmatisation of pain sufferers, it is time to remove them from the pain discourse and replace them with options that have sound foundations in biology.

Clinical Implications

When the many connotations of pain are viewed in a socio-psycho-biological framework, it is apparent that the fluidity in the language of pain available to the ancient Greek philosophers can also be found in the English language. The consequent evolution of negative connotations of pain in Western society demand their replacement by scientifically valid connotations that are rooted in biology.


Chronic pain Connotations Etymology Socio-psycho-biological 



We gratefully acknowledge the advice and many contributions from Professor Brian Griffiths.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Quintner
    • 1
  • Melanie Galbraith
    • 2
  • Milton Cohen
    • 3
  1. 1.Arthritis & Osteoporosis WAShenton ParkAustralia
  2. 2.Biosymm PhysiotherapyRivervaleAustralia
  3. 3.St Vincent’s Clinic & UNSWDarlinghurstAustralia

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