she feels more pain. As J. H. van den Berg expressed it: "Pain may be caused by seclusion, by interpersonal dislocation" ( 1974:225-26). Moreover, not only isolation from other people, but detachment from things aggravates pain. The boat, in this example, connected this man with his father, with his past, and with a future. Perhaps this accounts in part for the observations ( Brena 1978; Nachemson 1994) that chronic pain is an epidemic in contemporary industrial countries. That the importance of beloved activities and their loss was expressed like the loss of a loved one in these narratives suggests that the phenomenon of chronic pain is in part a suffering of the loss of social connection, a loss that precedes the onset of pain and that provides the breeding ground for it.
What these analyses show is not a rigid pattern of experiencing pain and of recounting the story of being in pain, but the complex interplay between the events of life and the social and historical context in which they occur. Pain, at first glance merely a physical symptom, has a cultural history. What I have shown is the extent to which what I find to be most mine, namely, my story, is simultaneously, most ours.
The narrative structures of the chronic pain experience also suggest the difficulties faced by professional care givers who respond to the pain of such patients. If the narrative structures indicate anything, it is the extent to which current social arrangements throw people into an eternity of suffering. Our time is out of joint, not so much with the body as a biological organism, but with the body as a means of our being-in-the-world.
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Publication information: Book title: The Anthropology of Medicine:From Culture to Method. Edition: 3rd. Contributors: Lola Romanucci-Ross - Editor, Daniel E. Moerman - Editor, Laurence R. Tancredi - Editor. Publisher: Bergin & Garvey. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 270.
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