Imaging and Imagining Chronic Pain

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Imaging and Imagining Chronic Pain

Collaborative workshop for Communicating Chronic Pain project, Department of Methodology, London School of Economics

1st February 2014

In the fifth century BC, Hippocrates declared that pain, like all consciousness, must emerge from the brain. Following many years of scientific endeavour, we now accept that pain may be caused by bodily injury, but as a consciousness, must be generated in the brain. The development of neuroimaging has made it possible to examine the responses and organisation of the human brain related to pain experiences. In spite of these technological advances, chronic pain remains a complex subjective experience that is poorly understood.

In the workshop, we will consider how neuroimaging techniques, such MRI, have helped to progress our understanding of pain. We will also explore how these images reflect the quality of an individuals’ pain experience to tackle this challenge, we will call upon the power of metaphors, visualisation and image making.

Guided through a Body Scan Meditation, we will invite you to focus attention around your body, being curious about your experience and observing the body sensations you become aware of. Using a range of arts materials and mono-printing techniques, you will give visible form to these internal observations by adopting your own unique visual language for the imaging of your bodily and emotional experience; in the presence or absence of pain. Calling upon the power of imagination and creativity, these body scans will bring us closer to the subjective experiences of our bodies and allusive sensations of pain that conventionally relies on verbal accounts.

Finally, we will explore how these body scans compare with the original brain images, questioning the meaning and significance of their relationship in the imaging of chronic pain.