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Embodiment and meaning: Understanding chronic pelvic pain

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The case of chronic pelvic pain in women is presented as an example to explore firstly, the problem of medical knowledge on, and interventions for, chronic pain; secondly, current new developments at the intersection of neuroscience and phenomenology, in particular Varela's proposal for a 'neurophenomenology'; and thirdly, methodological issues of significance for social interpretive sciences to enable their active contribution to this research programme. This paper argues that a non-dualistic concept of embodiment is fundamental to developing understandings of chronic pain, and that contributions from critical phenomenology need to be augmented with analyses from socio-political and cultural research. The social interpretive sciences, to contribute to a fully interdisciplinary neurophenomenology, need a methodology for analysing meanings (particularly narrative) within a theorization of language that is commensurate with critical phenomenological accounts of embodiment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Social Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2003


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