The neuroscience of pain, and a neuroethics of pain care

Neuroethics 3 (1):89-94 (2010)


Neuroscience, together with a broadened concept of “mind” has instigated pragmatic and ethical concerns about the experience and treatment of pain. If pain medicine is to be authentic, it requires knowledge of the brain-mind, pain, and the relative and appropriate “goodness” of potential interventions that can and/or should be provided. This speaks to the need for an ethics that reflects and is relevant to the contemporary neuroscience of pain, acknowledgment and appreciation of the sentient being in pain, effects of environment and value(s), and the nature of healing. It may be that neuroethics provides this viable meta-ethic for pain care. This essay describes how an integrative neuroethics of pain care allows, if not obligates, alignment of facts, values, and moral attitudes as a continuing process of re-investigation, analysis, and revision of what we know (and don’t know) about brains, minds, selves, and how we regard and treat the painient.

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