Gaspa, Francesco Nicola and Pinna, Giuliano (2010) Il Dolore tra natura e cultura = Pain at the crossroads between nature and culture. Italian Journal of Medicine, Vol. 4 (2), p. 145-148. ISSN 1877-9344. Article.
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Pain and suffering represent unavoidable experiences that have left a deep mark on the history of mankind. In this review, pain is examined from an anthropological point of view, because there is no pain without suffering, and every biophysical event is brought to the consciousness of an individual by an emotional signal. The body is an entity that changes from culture to culture and operates within particular historical and social contexts. Each society incorporates the concept of pain into its particular worldview, assigning it a specific meaning and value. Few human experiences can be read in as many different keys: from neuroscience to linguistic research, perspective selection, and emotional and cognitive functions. Although pain is currently regarded as a destructive force that is per se pathological, it is actually a form of protection. In today's society, pain is experienced as a problem in itself, a disease within a disease, and its physiopathological aspects have been extensively characterized. But pain must also be analyzed within its anthropological, sociological, political, and economic contexts. The phenomenon of pain lies at the crossroads between nature and culture, and analysis from this perspective is essential for explaining the multiplicity of related data. The “anthropology of pain” explains, among other things, the assortment of reactions to identical pain stimuli among individuals and groups: for example, the higher opposition to pain observed among individuals living in poverty, the phenomenon of “combat analgesia”, and the wide variety of analgesics used by traditional populations.
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