Synopses & Reviews
Pain is immediate and searing but remains a deep mystery for sufferers, their physicians, and researchers. As neuroscientific research shows, even the immediate sensation of pain is shaped by psychological state and interpretation. At the same time, many individuals and cultures find meaning, particularly religious meaning, even in chronic and inexplicable pain.
This ambitious interdisciplinary book includes not only essays but also discussions among a wide range of specialists. Neuroscientists, psychiatrists, anthropologists, musicologists, and scholars of religion examine the ways that meditation, music, prayer, and ritual can mediate pain, offer a narrative that transcends the sufferer, and give public dignity to private agony. They discuss topics as disparate as the molecular basis of pain, the controversial status of gate control theory, the possible links between the relaxation response and meditative practices in Christianity and Buddhism, and the mediation of pain and intense emotion in music, dance, and ritual. The authors conclude by pondering the place of pain in understanding--or the human failure to understand--good and evil in history.
Pain remains a deep mystery for sufferers, their physicians, and researchers. As neuroscientific research shows, even the immediate sensation of pain is shaped by psychological state and interpretation. At the same time, many individuals and cultures find meaning, particularly religious meaning, even in chronic and inexplicable pain. This interdisciplinary book includes not only essays but also discussions among a wide range of specialists.
About the Author
Sarah Coakley is Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity and Deputy Chair of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cambridge.Kay Kaufman Shelemay is G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.
Table of Contents
1. IntroductionSarah Coakley
2. Opening RemarksArthur Kleinman
Response from Anne Harrington
Part I: Pain at the Interface of Biology and Culture
3. Deconstructing Pain--A Deterministic Dissection of the Molecular Basis of Pain
4. Setting The Stage For Pain: Allegorical Tales From Neuroscience
Response from Anne Harrington: Is Pain Differentially Embodied?
Response from Elaine Scarry: Pain and the Embodiment of Culture
Discussion: Is There Life Left in the Gate Control Theory?
Discussion: The Success of Reductionism in Pain Treatment
Part II: Beyond "Coping": Religious Practices of Transformation
5. Palliative or Intensification? Pain and Christian Contemplation in the Spirituality of the 16th-Century Carmelites
6. Pain and the Suffering Consciousness: The Alleviation of Suffering in Buddhist Discourse
Response from Arthur Kleinman: The Incommensurable Richness of "Experience"
Response from Jon Levenson: The Theology of Pain and Suffering in the Jewish Tradition
Discussion: The "Relaxation Response": Can it Explain Religious Transformation?
Discussion: Reductionism and the Separation of Suffering and Pain
Discussion: The Instrumentality of Pain in Christianity and Buddhism
Part III: Grief and Pain: The Mediation of Pain in Music
7. Voice, Metaphysics, and Community: Pain and Transformation in the Finnish Karelian Ritual Lament
8. Music, Trancing and the Absence of Pain
Response from John Brust: Music as Ecstasy and Music as Trance
Response from Kay Shelemay: Thinking About Music and Pain
Discussion: The Presentation and Representation of Emotion in Music
Discussion: Neurobiological Views of Music, Emotion, and the Body
Discussion: Ritual and Expectation
Part IV: Pain, Ritual and the Somatomoral: Beyond the Individual
9. Pain and Humanity in the Confucian Learning of the Heart-and-Mind
Response from Laurence Kirmayer: Reflections from Psychiatry on Emergent Mind and Empathy
10. Painful Memories: Ritual and the Transformation of Community Trauma
Response from Stanley Tambiah: Collective Memory as a Witness to Collective Pain Discussion: Pain, Healing, and Memory
Part V: Pain as Isolation or Community? Literary and Aesthetic Representations
11. Physical Pain and the Ground of Creating
12. The Poetics of Anaesthesia: Representations of Pain in the Literatures of Classical India
Martha Ann Selby
Response from Richard Wolf: Doubleness, matam, and Muharram Drumming in South Asia
Discussion: The Dislocation, Representation, and Communication of Pain
Part VI: When Is Pain Not Suffering and Suffering Not Pain?: Self, Ethics and Transcendence
13. On the Cultural Mediation of Pain
Discussion: The Notion of Face
14. The Place of Pain in the Space of Good and Evil
Response from Charles Hallisey: The Problem of Action