Pain is Shaped by Culture

Irish-Banshee

For an experience of pain to constitute suffering in the full sense, it must fit into a cultural framework. To enable individuals to transform bodily pain into a personal experience, any culture provides at least four interrelated subprograms: words, drugs, myths, and models. Pain is shaped by culture into a question that can be expressed in words, cries, and gestures, which are often recognized as desperate attempts to share the utter confused loneliness in which pain is experienced: Italians groan and Prussians grind their teeth.

 

– Ivan Illich

 

 

 

 

 

 

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