Bioethics Blogs

CFP: Pain and its Paradoxes

BMJ Medical Humanities will host a special issue on PAIN in June 2018. Be part of it.


Title: Pain and its Paradoxes
Abstract Deadline: August 1, 2017
Final Submission Deadline: October 1, 2017 (publication date June 2018)


Pain is almost certainly the most common illness experience on the planet.  Yet, it is frequently treated poorly, and those who experience pain often endure skepticism, doubt, and stigma for their condition.  In most places around the world, pain closely tracks social power structures, which means that marginalized groups are both more likely to experience pain, and are more likely to have it regarded dubiously and treated inadequately.


Moreover, while pain is a near-universal part of the human condition, it remains difficult to define and conceptualize.  As Emily Dickinson famously noted, pain has an element of blank.  And while pain and suffering are often experienced together, they remain distinct phenomena: some people in pain do not suffer, and some people who suffer state that they are not in pain.  Pain is an essential pathway to redemption for many, and for others it exists only as a devastating, hollowing experience that defies meaning.  In short, the paradoxes of pain are multiple, varied, and slippery.  While pain has not escaped scholarly attention in the medical and health humanities over the last decade, current and inequitable burdens of global pain alone justify sustained focus and analysis.  


Accordingly, the Special Issue of Medical Humanities on “Pain and its Paradoxes” aims to integrate critical and rigorous scholarship (peer reviewed) addressing the lived experiences of pain, past, present, and future.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.