Smärta

På Toves seminarium häromveckan kom frågan om smärtans historia upp. Det verkar som om Joanna Bourkes The story of pain: from prayer to painkillers skulle kunna vara en lämplig bakgrundsläsning.

Andrew Scull har en matig recension där man lär sig ett och annat.1 Till exempel att det tog tid för anestesins tekniska landvinningar att spridas:

Such arguments came under threat particularly from the development of anaesthesia, and had little purchase, of course, among the secular, who wryly noted that analgesics seemed to work equally well on the virtuous and the “vicious”. Pain became for many an unmitigated evil, though it took many years before surgeons routinely employed anaesthesia, even when performing major surgery. Bourke draws here on the medical historian Martin Pernick, whose researches in the Pennsylvania Hospital archives demonstrated that between 1853 and 1862, one-third of all major limb amputations continued to take place without anaesthetic. (The introduction of anaesthesia is usually held to have taken place in 1846, when William Morton demonstrated the value of ether in a surgical operation at the Massachusetts General Hospital.) Anaesthetics had their own dangers, of course, which acted as a deterrent to both doctor and patient. Pain, many physicians maintained, had its positive side and might even be, so some insisted, vital to the curative process (a belief that took a long time to die).

  1. Andrew Scull, “Pure agony”, TLS 22&29 augusti 2014, 26f []
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