Pain is the most frequent cause of disability in America. And
pain specialists estimate that as many as thirty to sixty million
Americans suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is a complex
phenomenon-often extremely difficult to treat, and surprisingly
difficult to define.
Just as medical literature in general neglects the experience of
illness, so the clinical literature on pain neglects the experience
of pain. "Camp Pain" takes an approach different from most
studies of chronic pain, which are typically written from a medical
or social perspective. Based on a year's fieldwork in a pain
treatment center, this book focuses on patients' perspectives-on
their experiences of pain, what these experiences mean to them, and
how this meaning is socially constructed.
Jackson explores the psychological burden imposed on many sufferers
when they are judged not to have "real" pain, and by harsh moral
judgments that sufferers are weak, malingering, or responsible in
some way for their pain. Jackson also looks at the ways in which
severe pain erodes and destroys personal identity, studying in
particular the role of language.
While keeping her focus on patients' experiences, Jackson explores
Western concepts of disease, health, mind, and body; assumptions
about cause and effect; and notions of shame, guilt, and stigma.
"Camp Pain" does not attempt to resolve the uncertainties
and misperceptions associated with pain but rather aims at
enhancing our understanding of the wider implications of chronic
pain by focusing on the sufferers themselves.
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