Pain Management

Pain Management

In an essay of between 3,000 and 5,000 words, explore a topic or problem you have chosen in consultation with the course tutor or professor. The topic must be consistent with the objectives of Unit 5, set out on the sec-ond page of that unit.
So what are those objectives?
Unit 5 Objectives
After completing this unit, you should be able to critically evaluate:
1. how the limbic brain mediates between the internal bodily environment and the external social environment
2. Damasioís explanation of the relationship between reason and emotion
3. how pleasure and pain enter the “soul” and the significance of this dis-covery

A ROUGH GUIDE TO ASSIGNMENT 3: EMOTIONS, BODIES, SOCIETIES
Letís begin with the exact wording of this assignment:
In an essay of between 3,000 and 5,000 words, explore a topic or problem you have chosen in consultation with the course tutor or professor. The topic must be consistent with the objectives of Unit 5, set out on the second page of that unit.
So what are those objectives?
Unit 5 Objectives
After completing this unit, you should be able to critically evaluate:
1. how the limbic brain mediates between the internal bodily environment and the external social environment
2. Damasioís explanation of the relationship between reason and emotion
3. how pleasure and pain enter the “soul” and the significance of this dis-covery
Letís examine this assignment in the context of the other assignments and the course units. Assignment 1 invites you to provide your own examples of the emotions that form the various clusters of emotions. It is a means of encouraging you to observe emotions in the world around you by drawing on Ben-Zeíevís The Subtlety of Emotions. Assignment 2 invites you to choose a brand that interests you and use the course materials to examine the emotional labour and emotional marketing that comprise it.
Assignment 3 is in the same vein. You choose a topic or problem that is interesting or relevant to you. Your choice must be ëconsistentíwith the objective of Unit 5. It doesnít have to consistent with all of them. They are best regarded as triangulation points. Choose something that falls within that triangle. In this unit especially, everything is con-nected to everything else.
ëIn consultation with the course tutor or professor.íThis is important. This isnít a simple yes/no on my part. I can help you fine tune your topic and point you in the right direction. Iíve been doing this a long time. Iíd rather spend time on it up front than spend time try-ing to a fix a wayward essay. So when youíve a fair idea of what you want to do in this assignment, drop me a line or give me a call and letís talk.
A word on interest.ëInterestíindicates a tension between a conjecture (usually within the course materials) and an assumption (always your own). Interest provides the energy to learn about the problem, to get things done. [On the importance of ëinterestísee Murray Davis, ëThatís Interesting!í, Philosophy of the Social Sciences. June 1971, 309-344. Try to find time to read at least the first part.]
This assignment, just like the first two, are vehicles for you to develop and explore your interests, to make the learning relevant to you. Itís been at the core of the tutor model at AU for over 30 years, which is how long Iíve been doing it. Now it is fashionably known as the  ëemergent curriculumí. My job is to help stimulate and guide your interests. Once that is done all I usually have to do is keep out of your way.
What sort of topics might fall within the scope of this assignment? Some examples from the old assignment 3:
ï    addiction, mental illness or domestic violence
ï    experience of a somatic illness, such as cancer
ï    the medicalization of the body
ï    any of the ëemotionalíillnesses
ï    anything under ëwhen emotions go wrongí
ï    learning and teaching emotions
ï    emotions in the young and the old
ï    alternate, holistic treatments of the body
ï    school shootings, violence at work
These are just examples. You have a lot of discretion here. Your choice could be influ-enced by the job you do (nurse, teacher, police officer, prison officer, autism consultant), but it doesnít have to be. Sometimes itís good to choose a topic that will help us get away from our job. You could explore the emotions of fictional characters, in books or movies. Was Hamlet really mad or was he faking it? Or you could decide to write a theoretical paper on Damasio, Foucault, or similar figures. Or you could develop some ideas you had in the first two assignments.
If you get stuck for ideas you could try rummaging through The Business of Emo-tionsblog or my Twitter feed (@drrichardm).

This sounds interesting. Some thoughts:
1.    While it’s often a good idea to chose a topic you personally identify with, we should be clear that this assignment (and the course itself) does not claim to cure anything. Nevertheless, pain and pleasure are linked to emotions, so they’re a relevant topic.
2.    Pain is particularly difficult to understand and a lot has been written about it. The standard text is Scarry’s The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. I would begin with this.
3.    Also do a search in some of the journals on pain. There are a lot of them. Here is AU library’s collection.
4.    Keep in mind what the guide to this assignment says, especially the need to relate the assignment to assignment 5. This still allows you much discretion.
5.    So it is not just pain per se, but pain in relation to emotions and the body.
6.    How does your cultural tradition understand pain? Indigenous peoples often experience pain in a different way to Westerners.
7.    Regarding holistic medicine, there are journals on this and you might find something in one of them that may help you. Here is just one of them.
8.    Try searching along the lines of ‘pain and emotions’ in Google Scholar. That should generate some leads.

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