Chronic pain is a medical mystery, debilitating to patients and a source of frustration for practitioners. It often eludes both cause and cure and serves as a reminder of how much further we have to go in unlocking the secrets of the body. A new field of pain medicine has evolved from this landscape, one that intersects with dozens of disciplines and subspecialties ranging from psychology and physiology to anesthesia and chiropractic medicine. Over the past three decades, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners have struggled to define this complex and often contentious field as they work to establish standards while navigating some of the most challenging philosophical issues of Western science.
In The Politics of Pain Medicine: A Rhetorical-Ontological Inquiry, S. Scott Graham offers a rich and detailed exploration of the medical rhetoric surrounding pain medicine. Graham chronicles the work of interdisciplinary pain management specialists to found a new science of pain and a new approach to pain medicine grounded in a more comprehensive biospychosocial model. His insightful analysis demonstrates how these materials ultimately shape the healthcare community’s understanding of what pain medicine is, how the medicine should be practiced and regulated, and how practitioner-patient relationships are best managed. It is a fascinating, novel examination of one of the most vexing issues in contemporary medicine.