The Myth of Pain / Edition 1

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Pain, although very common, is little understood. Worse still, according to Valerie Gray Hardcastle, both professional and lay definitions of pain are wrongheaded — with consequences for how pain and pain patients are treated, how psychological disorders are understood, and how clinicians define the mind/body relationship.

Hardcastle offers a biologically based complex theory of pain processing, inhibition, and sensation and then uses this theory to make several arguments: (1) psychogenic pains do not exist; (2) a general lack of knowledge about fundamental brain function prevents us from distinguishing between mental and physical causes, although the distinction remains useful; (3) most pain talk should be eliminated from both the folk and academic communities; and (4) such a biological approach is useful generally for explaining disorders in pain processing. She shows how her analysis of pain can serve as a model for the analysis of other psychological disorders and suggests that her project be taken as a model for the philosophical analysis of disorders in psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience.

Presents author's biologically-based theory of pain proc- essing, inhibition & sensation; mental & physical causation.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"The field of pain has long needed a philosopher's voice. Now it has one."C. Richard Chapman , University of Washington

"The field of pain has long needed a philosopher's voice. Now it hasone." C.

Richard Chapman , University of Washington

C. Richard Chapman
The field of pain has long needed a philosopher's voice. Now it has one.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262582100
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Series: Philosophical Psychopathology
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Valerie Gray Hardcastle is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword xi
Acknowledgments xiii
1 The Myths of Pain 1
A Brief and Scattered History of Pain 2
A Vague Road Map and Preview 6
2 Pathological Pains 9
Setting the Stage 11
Are Pains a Mental Disorder? 16
A Brief Tour of the Official Line 16
The Psychology of Chronic Pain 20
Methodological Ills 21
Diagnostic Tools 24
The Pain Personality 29
3 Mind over Matter? 35
The Terms of the Debate 36
Mental Causation 37
Naturalizing Content 39
The Real Question 44
In Defense of Lazy Materialism 45
Distinctions and Definitions 46
Defining Mental States 51
Meeting Stich's Challenge: Philosophy's Place in Science 56
Mental versus Physical Causes 58
4 What We Don't Know about Brains: Two Competing Perspectives 61
The Feature-Detection Perspective 62
The Organization of the Brain 63
The Feature-Detection Perspective on the Dorsal Horn 67
Problems with the Perspective 72
The Dynamical Systems Approach 75
A Primer on Dynamical Systems 77
A Reason to Switch 78
A Dynamical Systems Perspective on the Dorsal Horn 81
Problems with the Approach 85
The Moral of the Story: Incompatible Approaches 87
A Difference in Explanatory Strategies 87
The Pragmatics of Neuroscience 90
5 The Nature of Pain 93
Pain as a Sensory System 93
The Complexity of Our Sensory Systems 96
A Sketch of Our Pain System 101
Philosophy's Error 103
The Awfulness of Pain 107
Images of Pain 108
The Emotion of Pain 112
Chronic Pain Possibilities 115
The Dynamical Approach 118
6 When a Pain Isn't 121
The Strangeness of Pain 122
Correlations between Nociception and Perception 122
Illusions of Pain 124
IASP's Reaction 127
Gate Theories of Pain 128
A Pain-Inhibiting System 130
Self-Injurious Behavior and Other Oddities 134
The Demographics of SIB Patients 135
Understanding SIB 138
7 "But Is It Going to Hurt?" 145
The Complexity of Pain Sensations 146
Eliminating Pain 151
Defending Eliminative Materialism 152
The Referents of Pain Terms 153
Direct Knowledge 154
The Necessity of Pain Talk 157
Eliminating Our Scientific Theories 159
The Irony of Pain Elimination 162
Connectionism and the Mind 163
Marr's Levels 164
Back to Pain 170
8 What We Do Know about Treating Pain 173
The Traditional "Cures" 173
Surgery 174
Drugs 176
Pain Clinics 177
Nontraditional Approaches 180
A Brief History of Hypnosis 180
What We Do Know about Hypnotism 185
What Counts as a Cure 191
Pain in Children and Infants 193
9 Epilogue: Pain as a Paradigm for Philosophical Psychopathology 201
Notes 209
References 229
Index 281
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