Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_304


Ubiquitous, inescapable, often intense human suffering is an overlooked or outright denied reality, an “elephant in the room,” in 20th and 21st psychology. To put it another way, a theoretically sophisticated understanding of suffering has largely been absent from twentieth and twenty-first century psychology. Surely this neglect reflects the obscuring of suffering in modern culture. Indeed, we enjoy relative freedom from many kinds of pain and suffering. But such relief can easily breed a compulsive “forgetting” or denial of these ultimately unavoidable realities of loss, despair, accident, crushed hopes, death, and threats of meaninglessness.


The term suffering refers to the many kinds of physical and emotional pain, including such things as fear, despair, loneliness, anguish, sorrow, misery, etc., many forms of which find their way into every human life at one point or another. Miller (2004, p. 26) points out that much modern medicine and psychology obscure...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychololgyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA