Monday, September 8, 2008

Pain in paradigm - missing link review

There is good news and bad news on the Missing Link Podcast. The bad news is that the podcast will be suspended until further notice. The feed will be maintained, but for the time being there will be no new issues. The good news is the great quality of the latest episode.

Under the title Where does it hurt? the missing link presents a guest essay by Daniel Goldberg. Goldberg talks of the medical profession and tries to analyze its problematic relation with the phenomenon of pain. His approach is (partly) a historical one. His main point seems to be that the paradigms of modern medicine sort of a priori exclude pain, or at least pains without lesion. It will not find an effective way of dealing with it - pain management - if it won't analyze this paradigm, both in its historical and its cultural, traditional sense.

There was, in my ears, a bit of a loose end in the essay which fascinated me enormously and brought some disappointment in that it was not tied to the main argument in the end - or at least not to my satisfaction. It was a remark that was made about Galen and his medicine tradition as it has dominated ours until it became scientific, reductionist and analytical. Galen, so Goldberg relates, was holistic, it pressed for a dialog between doctor and patient and it suggested that the complete person of the patient would be needed to explain (and treat) whatever he suffered from. Goldberg seems to suggest that with Galen this particular emphasis was lost and is sorely needed in understanding pain. Maybe it is what he intended to say, but it was left implicit.

Despite these shortcomings, this was a particularly thrilling installment of an otherwise already outstanding history podcast series. We hope Elizabeth Green Musselman will find the time to continue, but until then we will gladly go over the old stuff and wait.

All about The Missing Link on this blog:
Missing Link in Devon,
Curious and curiouser,
Domestic Science,
Missing Link with monotheists,
Missing Link with Popper,
An evolved controversy,
Time's Arrow,
On Time and on Counting - The Missing Link,
Strength in Numbers,
Constant Companions,
From Berlin,
History of Science.

More on old Medicine:
Four Humours (In Our Time).

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