Let's Go Special Pack

Pain: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780198738565

Rob Boddice
152 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • Looks at the phenomenon of pain from a historical and cultural as well as a modern medical viewpoint
  • Explores the historical hierarchies that linked levels of pain and the response to pain to social class and race
  • Follows the history of pain, from the classical world, to the centrality of pain in Medieval piety, and the growing modern focus on empathy and compassion towards pain in animals as well as human beings.
  • Includes discussion of the experience and treatment of pain in non-Western cultures, particularly Chinese and Indian

What is pain? Has the experience of pain always been the same? How is pain related to the emotions, to culture, and to pleasure? What happens to us when we feel pain? How does pain work in the body and in the brain?

In this Very Short Introduction, Rob Boddice explores the history, culture, and medical science of pain. Charting the shifting meanings of pain across time and place, he focusses on how the experience and treatment of pain have changed. He describes historical hierarchies of pain experience that related pain to social class and race, and the privileging of human states of pain over that of other animals. From the pain concepts of classical antiquity to expressions of pain in contemporary art, and modern medical approaches to the understanding, treatment, and management of pain, Boddice weaves a multifaceted account of this central human experience. Ranging from neuroscientific innovations in experimental medicine to the constructionist arguments of social scientists, pain is shown to resist a timeless definition. Pain is physical and emotional, of body and mind, and is always experienced subjectively and contextually. 


1: Pathos, Passion, Algos, Dolor
2: Pain and Piety
3: Pain and the Machine
4: Pain and Civilisation
5: Sympathy, Compassion, Empathy
6: Pain as Pleasure
7: Pain in Modern Medicine and Science
8: Chronic Pain
9: Cultures of Pain
Further Reading


Rob Boddice is Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in the Department of History and Cultural Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and a Research Associate of the Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development. He is the author or editor of six books, most recently Pain and Emotion in Modern History (as editor) (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2014), Edward Jenner (Stroud: History Press, 2015), and The Science of Sympathy: Morality, Evolution and Victorian Civilization (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, in press). Boddice holds a Ph.D in History from the University of York (2006).

"enlightening, easy to read ... This book is "a must read" for anyone who thinks they have accessed everything they need to on the topic of pain." - Ibadete Fetahu, Nursing Times

"Written with dexterity, concision and clarity ... this is a very impressive short book about a polymorphous and highly elusive subject that combines first hand research, useful summaries of current debates, and explorations for future inquiries." - Javier Moscoso, History of Emotions Blog