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The Phenomenon of Suffering and its Relationship to Pain

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Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME,volume 68)

Abstract

Pain and other symptoms such as dyspnea (shortness of breath) have a physical basis, but suffering is personal. The path, stretching from the physiological response evoked by a physical stimulus to the disintegration of the person experienced as suffering, is important to understand not only for itself but also as an exemplar of mind-body interactions. As is well known, the domains of body and mind have been kept separate in the intellectual life of Western culture from its earliest history to the present. This is despite the fact that, in stage after stage in the development of Western medicine from the Hippocratic tradition to the present, there has always been an understanding that the mental life — called the moral life at some periods —has an impact on the body and its afflictions (Entralgo, 1956). It is difficult to make a statement about the relationship of these two realms that does not sound dualistic. This essay, to the contrary, is based on the belief that we are of a piece — anything that happens to one part affects the whole, what affects the whole affects every part. All the parts are interdependent and not one functions completely separate from the rest. For example, although the functions of the lung are unique to that organ, their results influence the whole organism: respiration, in all its complexity, flows through the whole. Similarly, reason and the passions (classically considered functions of the mind) both require and act through the body, they flow through the whole. If you think this a strange idea, ask yourself how there could be complete separation of any part from the whole, so that what happened in the part had no effect on the whole?

Keywords

  • Palliative Care
  • Heart Attack
  • Bodily Sensation
  • Palliative Care Program
  • Impending Death

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2001 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Cassell, E.J. (2001). The Phenomenon of Suffering and its Relationship to Pain. In: Toombs, S.K. (eds) Handbook of Phenomenology and Medicine. Philosophy and Medicine, vol 68. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0536-4_20

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0536-4_20

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4020-0200-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-94-010-0536-4

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