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Can We Finally 'See' Pain?: Brain Imaging Techniques and Implications for the Law

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The assessment of chronic pain is a highly unmet medical need. Chronic pain is also the subject of a large and costly category of legal claims. Yet, with pain cases, the jury always face a doubt: is the claimant faking or malingering? How can we be assured that the claimant is 'really' in pain? Most recently, several new neuroimaging technologies are promising to solve these questions, by rendering pain visible, measurable and, to some degree, verifiable. The results of these advancements have prompted us to think of pain in a different way, i.e. as an altered brain state in which functional connections are modified, with components of degenerative aspects. But, does this imply the stronger claim that these technologies allow us to 'know', or to literally 'see', the pain of others? Is the pain being objectified by these techniques? And if so, what might the law do differently, or do better?
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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