Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Living Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Sacred Pain

  • Benson A. Mulemi
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27771-9_9217-1

Pain is an unpleasant and undesirable sensory experience resulting from illness or tissue injury. This refers to the sensation associated with actual or potential tissue damage described in terms of such damage (IASP Subcommittee on Classification 1986, p. 217). The word pain has etymological link to the Middle English and Old French term peine, Latin poena, and Ancient Greek poine, which denote punishment or penalty (Swenson 2005, p. 53). However, pain serves as a cue for behavioral and biological responses that enhance survival opportunity in the face of physiological threats. In this sense, pain hurts and chastises an organism and triggers impulsive, emotional, behavioral, and physical aversive reactions for avoidance or mitigation of perceived potential or actual injury. The responses to pain among people and other organisms may involve information processing for appropriate responses to both “deserved and undeserved” tissue injury. Pain is both a biological and physiological...


Religious Perspective Faith Healing Identity Affirmation Sensory Discomfort Ritual Observance 
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.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Benedict, R. (1960). Patterns of culture. New York: The New American Library.Google Scholar
  2. Budden, A. (2003). Pathologizing possession: An essay on mind, self, and experience in dissociation. Anthropology of Consciousness, 42(2), 27–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Caudill, M. A. (1995). Managing pain before it manages you. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Craig, A. D. (2002). Specificity and integration in central pain pathways. Abstracts, 10th world congress on pain. Seattle: IASP Press.Google Scholar
  5. Critchley, M. (1956). Congenital indifference to pain, Annals of Internal Medicine, 45(5), 737–747. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-45-5-737.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Durkheim, E. (1995). The elementary forms of religious life (trans: Fields, K.). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  7. Flor, H., & Diers, M. (2007). Limitations of pharmacotherapy: Behavioral approaches to chronic pain. In C. Stein (Ed.), Analgesia: Hand book of experimental pharmacology (Vol. 177, pp. 415–427). Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gatchel, R. J., Peng, Y. B., Peters, M. L., Fuchs, P. N., & Turk, D. C. (2007). The biopsychosocial approach to chronic pain: Scientific advances and future directions. Psychological Bulletin, 133(4), 581–624.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Glucklich, A. (2001). Sacred pain: Hurting the body for the sake of the soul. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Gould, H. J. (2006). Understanding pain: What it is, why it happens, and how it is managed. New York: Demos Medical Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Grahek, N. (2007). Feeling pain and being in pain. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Hadjistavropulos, T., & Craig, K. D. (2004). An introduction to pain: Psychological perspectives. In T. Hadjistavropulos & K. D. Craig (Eds.), Pain: Psychological perspectives (pp. 1–12). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  13. International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Subcommittee on Classification. (1986). Pain terms: A current list with definitions and notes on usage. Pain, 3(Supplement), 216–221.Google Scholar
  14. Morris, D. B. (1991). The culture of pain. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  15. Rasmussen, P. (1996). The congenital insensitivity-to-pain syndrome (analgesia congenita): Report of a case. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 6, 117–122. doi:10.1111/j.1365-263X.1996.tb00223.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Saravane, D. (2014). Pain in mental health: Myths. In S. Marchand, D. Saravane, & I. Gaumond (Eds.), Mental health and pain: Somatic and psychiatric components of pain in mental health (pp. 3–13). Paris: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Swenson, K. M. (2005). Living through pain: Psalms and the search for wholeness. Waco: Baylor University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Weslimovitch. (2013, June 25). Sacred pain sacrifice. Taboo: National Geographic Documentary, [video file]. Retrieved May 11, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaNiiovDAdg

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences; Anthropology UnitThe Catholic University of Eastern AfricaNairobiKenya