What Pain Asymbolia Really Shows

Mind 124 (494):493-516 (2015)
Abstract
Pain asymbolics feel pain, but act as if they are indifferent to it. Nikola Grahek argues that such patients present a clear counterexample to motivationalism about pain. I argue that Grahek has mischaracterized pain asymbolia. Properly understood, asymbolics have lost a general capacity to care about their bodily integrity. Asymbolics’ indifference to pain thus does not show something about the intrinsic nature of pain; it shows something about the relationship between pains and subjects, and how that relationship might break down. I explore the consequences of such a view for both motivationalism and the categorization of pain asymbolia as a syndrome, arguing for a close link between asymbolia and various forms of depersonalization
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