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Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb: Amputation, Embodiment, and Prosthetic Technology

Cassandra S. Crawford
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 314
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  • Book Info
    Phantom Limb
    Book Description:

    Phantom limb pain is one of the most intractable and merciless pains ever known - a pain that haunts appendages that do not physically exist, often persisting with uncanny realness long after fleshy limbs have been traumatically, surgically, or congenitally lost. The very existence and naturalness of this pain has been instrumental in modern science's ability to create prosthetic technologies that many feel have transformative, self-actualizing, and even transcendent power.In Phantom Limb, Cassandra S. Crawford critically examines phantom limb pain and its relationship to prosthetic innovation, tracing the major shifts in knowledge of the causes and characteristics of the phenomenon.Crawford exposes how the meanings of phantom limb pain have been influenced by developments in prosthetic science and ideas about the extraordinary power of these technologies to liberate and fundamentally alter the human body, mind, and spirit. Through intensive observation at a prosthetic clinic, interviews with key researchers and clinicians, and an analysis of historical and contemporary psychological and medical literature, she examines the modernization of amputation and exposes how medical understanding about phantom limbs has changed from the late-19th to the early-21st century. Crawford interrogates the impact of advances in technology, medicine, psychology and neuroscience, as well as changes in the meaning of limb loss, popular representations of amputees, and corporeal ideology.Phantom Limbquestions our most deeply held ideas of what is normal, natural, and even moral about the physical human body.Cassandra S. Crawford is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Northern Illinois University and a faculty associate in Women's Studies and in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6482-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction: Ghost in the Machine
    (pp. 1-29)

    In many ways, the conference was like all others. Hundreds of us had taken over the lobby, the hallways, the dining spaces, and many of the meeting rooms in the Fairmont Dallas on an oppressively sultry August weekend. We were all signing in, orienting, mingling—all of those registration day musts. I was given a “first-timer” sticker. But, unlike most of the other first-timers, I was one of a very few at the conference who was not an amputee. The Amputee Coalition of America’s (ACA) Annual Education Conference and Exposition was officially devoted to changing direction, and to the technology,...

  5. 2 Characterizing Phantoms: Features of Phantom Limb Syndrome
    (pp. 30-72)

    Official medical accounts of a disease, illness, disorder, or syndrome communicate as much about corporeal ideology, as much about what is normative and what is moral, as it does about what has “gone terribly wrong” with the body’s structures or processes. Biomedical knowledge links specific characterizations of the pathological and the natural/normal/normative body with what Foucault (1978, 139) called “anatamopolitics,” or a politics intended to render human corporeality useful and the physical body docile. As biomedical and techno-scientific knowledge systems elaborate, we are increasingly immersed within an ever more expansive and complex set of discourses and practices that engender the...

  6. 3 From Pleasure to Pain: Accounting for the Rise and Fall in Phantom Pain
    (pp. 73-106)

    Consonant with the invention of pain medicine (Baszanger 1992, 1998a), the instantiation of the pain clinic (Baszanger 1992, 1998a; Kugelmann 1997), the institutionalization and codification of pain therapeutics and clinical management (Baszanger 1998a; Rey 1993), and the emerging “epidemic” of pain in the United States around 1975 (Morris 1991; Osterweis, Kleinman, and Mechanic 1987), phantoms became painful, and through the advance of a specific language of pain vis-à-vis the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), phantoms became cruelly, gruelingly, exhaustingly painful. The terminology advanced by the MPQ became pivotal for understanding and, in fact, expressing phantom pain. In other words, phantom pain...

  7. 4 Phantoms in the Mind: The Psychogenic Origins of Ethereal Appendages
    (pp. 107-148)

    A survey of the major psychogenic theories of phantom limb exposes the palpable uneasiness and even fear that the “fractioned” body and haunted limbs have historically evoked. There is a “profound disquiet stirred in the human soul by bodies that stray from what is typical and predictable” (Thomson 1996, 1). At times, phantoms have made amputees and their families, friends, and communities, as well as clinicians, researchers, and policymakers, uneasy in part because they represented an unsettling alienation from the body while also being profound reminders of the work that embodiment entails. Whether in the form of faithful representations or...

  8. 5 Phantoms in the Brain: The Holy Grail of Neuroscience
    (pp. 149-192)

    Since the late nineteenth century, ethereal traces of once physical parts have become substantive. They have come to, in Young’s (1995, 6) terms, “penetrate people’s life worlds, acquire facticity, and shape the self-knowledge of patients, clinicians, and researchers.” Phantoms have become substantive not because of their physical properties per se but because of their power-as-effect (Harré 2002). Phantoms bridge corporeal biographies of the past with those of the present. Phantoms inhabit brains in order to be seen, and they skillfully animate prostheses in order to be felt. In fact, they can be seen quite clearly using neuroimaging technologies—often in...

  9. 6 Phantom-Prosthetic Relations: The Modernization of Amputation
    (pp. 193-222)

    Prostheses and phantoms are “objects” that have what Lucy Suchman (2005, 379) called “affiliative powers”; neither the prosthesis nor the phantom are in her terms “innocent”; rather, they are “fraught with significance for the relations that they materialize.” They facilitate and enter into affiliations of various kinds, and accordingly, they are much more than mere instruments or tools adopted for the purposes of restoring or enhancing the functionality of limbs and, by extension, bodies. They are much more than commodities exchanged or valued with the intent of satisfying human want or need. They are much more than pathology or sensation...

  10. 7 Conclusion: Authenticity and Extinction
    (pp. 223-250)

    How and why has the phantom become at once the Holy Grail of neuroscientific investigation into subjective experience, the nature of the self, consciousness, and the mind-body connection at the same time that it has become “matter” or substance on the precipice of theoretical extinction? How did that which was characterized by trickery, deceit, spite, and the meaningless ways of a disturbed mind become characterized by exquisite pain, grotesque distortion, and the disordered/disordering brain and then ultimately by fundamental utility, neuronal remodeling, evolutionary purpose, and a natural proclivity for the technology that could mean its ruin? In short, how after...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 251-266)
    (pp. 267-300)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 301-306)
    (pp. 307-307)