A Political History
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Introduction. Between Liberal Relief and Conservative Care
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In the 1990s, talk- radio stars like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Schlessinger— the brash and arrogant voices of American con servatism— rose to fame by rejecting presidential candidate and later president Bill Clinton’s liberalism. Like many tough- talking conservatives...
1. The Trojan Horse of Pain
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For Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beecher, soldiers’ pain was a paradox. Treating men gravely wounded on the Italian war fronts in the mid- 1940s and at the Anzio beachhead, Beecher, a medic who later became a renowned pain specialist, marveled at how “strong emotion can block...
2. Opening the Gates of Relief
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When President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the new disability law (SSDI) in July 1956, he opened a gateway to relief for Texas resident Rosie Page and thousands of others. A middle- aged mother, Page had entered the workforce during the World War like thousands of other...
3. The Conservative Case against Learned Helplessness
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Barely two months after Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration in January 1981, his secretary for Health and Human Services, Richard Schweiker, began purging the Social Security disability rolls of people claiming pain as their disability. Reagan waged his promised...
4. Divided States of Analgesia
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When Sherry Miller turned to Michigan pathologist Jack Kevorkian for relief in 1992 she was in severe pain and living a life of horrible desperation. Like the other people who turned to Kevorkian for help, Miller had a well- documented trail of suffering and physical...
5. OxyContin Unleashed
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The revelation in 2003 that conservative provocateur Rush Limbaugh had maintained a secret addiction to the painkiller OxyContin carried a deep political irony. This arch critic of liberalism, social indulgence, and big government’s coddling, a man who extended...
Conclusion. Theaters of Compassion
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People in pain have been stock figures in American political theater. As the scholar Javier Moscoso has noted, “The uses of pain have nothing to do with truth, but rather with drama.”1 Illustrating the point, the 1966 American film The Fortune Cookie placed actor Jack...
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I owe a great debt to many people who have provided challenging encouragement over the years and to many institutions supporting the research behind this work. The project was first conceptualized during my days on the faculty in social medicine at the School of Medicine and in...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 11 halftones, 4 line drawings
Publication Year: 2014