Pain: A Political History

Pain: A Political History

by Keith Wailoo

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Overview

Pain: A Political History by Keith Wailoo

People in chronic pain have always sought relief—and have always been judged—but who decides whether someone is truly in pain? In this history of American political culture, Keith Wailoo examines how pain and compassionate relief define a line between society's liberal trends and conservative tendencies. Tracing the development of pain theories in politics, medicine, law, and society, and battles over the morality and economics of relief, Wailoo points to a tension at the heart of the conservative-liberal divide.

Beginning with the advent of a pain relief economy after World War II in response to concerns about recovering soldiers, Wailoo explores the 1960s rise of an expansive liberal pain standard, along with the emerging conviction that subjective pain was real, disabling, and compensable. These concepts were attacked during the Reagan era of the 1980s, when a conservative political backlash led to decreasing disability aid and the growing role of the courts as arbiters in the politicized struggle to define pain.

Wailoo identifies how new fronts in pain politics opened in the 1990s in states like Oregon and Michigan, where advocates for death with dignity insisted that end-of-life pain warranted full relief. In the 2006 arrest of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Wailoo finds a cautionary tale about deregulation, which spawned an unmanageable market in pain relief products as well as gaps between the overmedicated and the undertreated. Today's debates over who is in pain, who feels another's pain, and what relief is deserved form new chapters in the ongoing story of liberal relief and conservative care.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421418407
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2015
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 703,863
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Keith Wailoo is the Townsend Martin Professor of History and Public Affairs and Vice Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is coauthor of The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine: Ethnicity and Innovation in Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, and Sickle Cell Disease and author of Drawing Blood: Technology and Disease Identity in Twentieth-Century America.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Between Liberal Relief and Conservative Care
1. The Trojan Horse of Pain
2. Opening the Gates of Relief
3. The Conservative Case against Learned Helplessness
4. Divided States of Analgesia
5. OxyContin Unleashed
Conclusion. Theaters of Compassion
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

What People are Saying About This

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson

"At once capacious and focused, Pain expands on the cultural histories of this compelling topic by admirably developing the political construction of the elusive and yet ever-so-material experience of pain. The politics of pain, disability, medicine, and suicide emerge as Wailoo’s book ranges across the rhetoric of a 'bleeding heart' liberal to the conservative uses of rugged individualism in relation to the pharmaceutical industry."

Arthur Kleinman

"Wailoo's ambitious volume tells post–World War Two American political history through the story of pain: its cultural meanings, economic costs, and bureaucratic management and its political uses and abuses. No other work I know of sustains such a macro-analysis while attending to pain's medical, moral, and media significances. And reading it hurts not—and for policy makers might even be therapeutic! Bravo!"

James A. Morone

"Beautifully written, broad ranging, deep, wise, unexpected, and endlessly fascinating."

Charles E. Rosenberg

"Physicians and social scientists are aware that individual pain is complex and elusive—an aggregate of physiology, cultural context, and idiosyncrasy. Wailoo has added a significant analytic dimension to this understanding of pain by incorporating the domains of ideology and politics as they are reflected in policy. A highly original and persuasively argued contribution by one of America's most prominent historians of medicine and society, Pain will attract a wide and thoughtful readership."

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