Pain and Its Transformations

Pain and Its Transformations

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 456 pages
  • 162.56 x 236.22 x 43.18mm | 771.1g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • 32 halftones, 2 line illustrations
  • 0674024567
  • 9780674024564
  • 1,004,093

Review quote

The sixth and last of the Harvard Mind/Brain/Behavior interdisciplinary books, the most ambitious, and the most truly interdisciplinary of all. This book covers the waterfront in current pain research, from what we know about the biological concepts of pain in literature, the effects of music on pain, and even the moral worth of pain.--John Dowling "Pain and Its Transformations" is a goldmine. Never before has a single volume brought together such a large number of experts in numerous fields and tied their ideas together into a cohesive study of pain. This volume will be a singularly fecund first step into a number of promising research agendas.--Ariel Glucklich These essays link to each other in a way that I have rarely seen in a collection. Coakley and Shelemay beautifully frame the entire project, locating it conceptually and making clear what are the stakes for the field of religion and science. In topic, participants, and results, it is the sort of interdisciplinary encounter that the field needs if it is to make progress.--Philip Clayton Pain and Its Transformations is a goldmine. Never before has a single volume brought together such a large number of experts in numerous fields and tied their ideas together into a cohesive study of pain. This volume will be a singularly fecund first step into a number of promising research agendas.--Ariel Glucklich
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Table of contents

1. Introduction Sarah Coakley 2. Opening Remarks Arthur 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 Clifford Woolf 4. Setting The Stage For Pain: Allegorical Tales From Neuroscience Howard Fields 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 Sarah Coakley 6. Pain and the Suffering Consciousness: The Alleviation of Suffering in Buddhist Discourse Luis Gomez 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 Elizabeth Tolbert 8. Music, Trancing and the Absence of Pain Judith Becker 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 Tu Weiming Response from Laurence Kirmayer: Reflections from Psychiatry on Emergent Mind and Empathy 10. Painful Memories: Ritual and the Transformation of Community Trauma Jennifer Cole 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 Elaine Scarry 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 Laurence Kirmayer Discussion: The Notion of Face 14. The Place of Pain in the Space of Good and Evil Nicholas Wolterstorff Response from Charles Hallisey: The Problem of Action 15. Afterword Sarah Coakley
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About Sarah Coakley

Sarah Coakley is Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr., Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. Kay Kaufman Shelemay is G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.
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