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Title: The subject's relationship with pain and its impact on identity and existence
Author: Francis, Doreen
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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What is pain, what does it mean that the subject has a relationship with it, and how does this affect his identity and existence? My definition of pain is derived from that proposed by scientists such as Melzack and Wall, and Freud. Pain is a dynamic, multilayered, diverse collection of experiences which impact and influence the subject throughout life. Pain is a kind of conglomerate of past, traumatic, neurobiological, psychological and emotional imprints--pain as in suffering or being in pain. The aim of this thesis is to argue that it is not pain, as such, but the relationship of the subject to (his/her) pain which is most significant to his/her processes of life. In examining the combination of two theories of pain, namely, Freud’s psychosexual theory of development and Melzack’s theory of the Neuromatrix, my thesis endeavours to evidence my theory by using case study methodology. The similarities in the theories which are a hundred years apart have sparked my interest to propose that there is the distinct possibility for the existence of what I have named a Psychomatrix--patterns of pain (loss - abandonment, grief, rejection, desire) imprinted from infancy within an innate matrix that are specifically translated by their own ‘psychological and emotional neural loops’ and therefore, similar to the neuromatrix concept. As pain is triggered these ‘loops’ become more ingrained as information is analysed and coded to create a continuous (subjective) experience of suffering or being in pain. This is also true for positive emotions, such as love and joy, however I suggest that pain is the primary, and most significant emotion that needs to be understood in order to understand the others which are triggered by the same neural – psychological and physical – pathways as incidental emotions of the quality of existence. A vast spectrum of (on-going) research has identified the impact of cultural, religious, social and political factors on pain and pain management. I suggest that all of these figure in the conglomerate. Using a psychoanalytical frame of reference this is a theoretical and conceptual thesis. My final conclusion is that pain becomes an object that compels the subject to respond accordingly and consequently, from birth to death, defining his/her identity and existence.
Supervisor: Nobus, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychomatrix ; Neuromatrix ; Pleasure ; Equalibrium ; Addiction