I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 May 2024 - 24 May 2024

2024 May 18

Med Health Care Philos


Pain and temporality: a merleau-pontyian approach.


Wagner JN


Chronic pain is a common disorder with enormous sociomedical importance. A major part of primary and secondary costs of illness is caused by the various pain syndromes. Nociception – the sensory perception of a painful stimulus – is a complex process relying on an intricate system of anatomical, neurophysiological and biochemical networks. This applies even more so to pain – the state of experiencing a nociceptive event, of interpreting it in terms of meaning for the affected individual and of suffering a range of emotions it elicits. This intricacy renders it obvious, that the empirical medical sciences alone cannot explain all aspects of pain. Hence, it has also become a focus of phenomenological research. One aspect of these investigations is the interaction of pain and the perception of the lived body’s spatiality. The focus of this article will build on these concepts to develop a construct of the alteration of temporality caused by chronic pain and the effects this spells out for the affected subject. To this end, I will primarily draw on Merleau-Ponty’s ideas of the lived body as well as on theories of enactivism and embodiment. I will also point out parallels to neuroscientific data, thereby demonstrating the proximity of phenomenology and neuroscience. A possible partial solution to the pain dilemma may be derived from psychology: techniques relying on cognitive behavioural intervention, awareness training, and existential analysis may provide alleviation to patients suffering from chronic pain.