Pain and its Paradoxes (CfP, BMJ Medical Humanities Special Issue)

The BMJ has issued a call for abstracts for its forthcoming Special Issue of Medical Humanities on “Pain and its Paradoxes”. The deadline for abstract submissions is 01 August 2017.

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 addressing the lived experiences of pain, past, present, and future. Specifically, we invite manuscripts on subjects including but not limited to

  • The nature and concept of pain
  • The history of pain
  • The phenomenology of pain
  • Narratives of pain
  • The relationship between pain and suffering
  • Pain as an emotional experience (including the history of pain as emotional experience)
  • Pain and anxiety
  • Pain and sympathy
  • Pain and grief
  • Pain and inequalities (race, gender, class, age, disability status, etc.)
  • Pain and disability
  • Pain and stigma
  • Pain and pharmaceuticals, including but not limited to opioids

The editors are especially interested in manuscripts considering pain from non-Western contexts.

Interested contributors should send an abstract to EIC Brandy Schillace and Guest Editor Daniel Goldberg no later than 01 August 2017.

Final submissions should be submitted to the BMJ Medical Humanities online ScholarOne system, choosing the category Special Issue: Pain and its Paradoxes, by 01 October 2017. Publication date will be June 2018.

All accepted articles will be rigorously peer reviewed.

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