From the pain of aphasia to the aphasia of pain

Mention of Laura’s aphasia in a recent post reminded me how much pain the loss of her language skills caused Laura and how much that affected Anne Mei and me.  Except towards the end, Laura felt little or no pain directly from her cancer.  Until then her somatic and visceral pains were brought on by medical interventions, such as needle sticks and Decadron.  But, as we’ve seen, those are not the only kinds of pain.  The next series of posts will look into other aspects of pain.  Disabilities such as aphasia and loss of vision.  What we tend to regard as personal or social injuries, and the pain involved in emotions such as shame, fear, and anger.  First, there will be a series of posts about incidents during Laura’s illness that give concrete examples of these different ways of hurting.  Then there will be an analysis of the interactions among pain, shame, fear, and anger.  Next, we will explore why we do not feel pain without  imagining, not even “purely physical” pain, and along the way clarify what I do and do not mean by “imagining.” Finally, we will examine what this line of thinking means for Elaine Scarry’s thesis that we cannot express pain in words.

Thus we will be tracing an arc from the pain of aphasia to Scarry’s take on the aphasia of pain.

Because this is a blog and not a book, I may make other posts on topics outside this series, but you can follow the series under the Three Kiss-offs category in the Index of posts to-date.


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