“Morus per se?”: Pain and its Treatment in Thirteenth-and Fourteenth-century Europe
Walton O. Schalick
The Fifth Meeting of the Asian Society for the History of Medicine (2010)
In the United States, we are in the midst of a “War on Pain.” Advertisements on buses and subways, television, radio and the printed media rail against the existence of pain and hawk various treatments. The medical community has served as both a source of the painful din and a fountain of its treatments. The rise of the “pain clinic,” a medical clinic which brings together an interdisciplinary team to treat the multi-faceted generators of pain, has itself generated a small, but lucrative industry in which expensive therapies are offered, such as spinal cord stimulators and epidural injections.
US culture is struggling to identify appropriate sociological means of managing pain. Under the current system, severe and chronic pain are considered disabilities,entitling the sufferer to enter the “sick role” and to derive social benefits like absence from work and disability compensation. But such a “tear” in the social fabric as is ripped by the nearly forty-five percent of Americans who sufferer from a chronic pain during their lifetime accentuates scholarly debates. While some argue the “war on pain,” others, like Valerie Hardcastle, champion “the myth of pain.”