For many decades, the care of people in chronic pain has vexed caregivers, challenged policymakers, and bedeviled the lives of people seeking relief from low back pain, migraines, arthritis, and other ailments. In two books—Pain: A Political History (2014) and Dying in the City of the Blues (2001)—I have argued that controversy over pain care persists because pain is at once a clinical, a cultural, and a political problem. The questions surrounding people in pain are fraught. Are complainants truly in the pain they claim to endure, and how do we know? And if so, what type of relief do they need or deserve? Is painkiller drug relief counterproductive, leading to addiction? Are disability benefits warranted? To say that pain is political is merely to recognize the deep connection between these questions of clinical judgment and swirling dilemmas surrounding social welfare in America.


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pp. 253-262
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