Thinking Through the Pain

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 59 (2):253-262 (2016)
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Abstract

While researching my 2001 book on sickle cell disease, I became aware of the politics of pain. In that malady—a painful disorder associated with African Americans and characterized by frequent infections and recurring painful “crises”—the politics of pain recognition and adequate relief intersect not only with drug concerns, but also with American racial politics. One cannot understand fully the history of sickle cell patients without understanding politics on two levels: the macropolitics of race in America and the micropolitics of medicinal encounters. How these two kinds of politics collided in clinical decision-making about diagnosis, treatment, and pain management has long been a focus of my scholarship—not...

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