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What we see when we digitize pain: The risk of valorizing image-based representations of fibromyalgia over body and bodily experience

Digital health, 2017, Vol.3 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    What we see when we digitize pain: The risk of valorizing image-based representations of fibromyalgia over body and bodily experience
  • Author: Manivannan, Vyshali
  • Found In: Digital health, 2017, Vol.3 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: The Senses And Digital Health ; Fibromyalgia ; Diagnostic Imaging ; Narration ; Metaphor ; Affect ; Hermeneutics ; Pain ; Pain Management ; Patient Care ; Autoethnography
  • Description: Fibromyalgia is chronic pain of unknown etiology, attended by fatigue and affective dysfunction. Unapparent to the unpracticed eye or diagnostic image, it is denied the status of “real” suffering given to visually confirmable disorders. It is my customary mode of existence: a contingent landscape of swinging bridges that may or may not give way, everything a potential threat or deprivation. I don’t express it within the framework of acute pain, but I am evaluated by traditional biomedical standards anyway. Ultimately, the diagnostic image of pain, and the medical and academic discourse used to interpret it, determines my functionality. Such a stance dismisses bodily senses and alternate ways of knowing in pursuit of the ocularcentric objectivity promised by digital health technologies, whose vision remains chained to the interpretive, discursive strategies of human operators and interpreters. A new poetics of pain is critical not only for rewriting the dominant metaphors that construct and delimit our imaginings of pain but also for rewiring the use and reading of digital technologies, wherein the digital image becomes the new site of the hermeneutic exercise, even when the suffering body lies in plain view. This facilitates a failure to listen and touch in patient care, and the imposition of a narrative based on visual evidence, translated into sanitized language, at the cost of intercorporeality. If pain strips sufferers of a voice, my body and its affects should be allowed to speak.
  • Identifier: E-ISSN: 2055-2076 ; DOI: 10.1177/2055207617708860 ; PMCID: 6001215 ; PMID: 29942598

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