Jessica Stanier & Nicole Miglio on pain & the intersubjective self – new article

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Article by Jessica Stanier (Wellcome Centre, University of Exeter) and Nicole Miglio (San Raffaele University) – and BSP Podcast preview!

Last year we released a BSP Podcast episode – taken from a talk at our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online – from Nicole Miglio (San Raffaele University) and Jessica Stanier (Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, University of Exeter). Titled ‘Painful experience and constitution of the intersubjective self’, the presentation was based on a book chapter then due to be published in Phenomenology of Bioethics and Technoethics (ed. S. Ferrarello; Springer). The book is out now, and below we provide an overview of their chapter with a link to the full text, as well as details of and a link to the BSP Podcast episode.

‘Painful Experience and Constitution of the Intersubjective Self: A Critical-Phenomenological Analysis’
Jessica Stanier and Nicole Miglio
Phenomenology of Bioethics and Technoethics (ed. S. Ferrarello; Springer, 2021).

In this paper, we discuss how phenomenology might cogently express the way painful experiences are layered with complex intersubjective meaning. In particular, we propose a critical conception of pain as an intricate multi-levelled phenomenon, deeply ingrained in the constitution of one’s sense of bodily self and emerging from a web of intercorporeal, social, cultural, and political relations. In the first section, we review and critique some conceptual accounts of pain. Then, we explore how pain is involved in complex ways with modalities of pleasure and displeasure, enacted personal meaning, and contexts of empathy or shame. We aim to show why a phenomenology of pain must acknowledge the richness and diversity of peculiar painful experiences. The second section then weaves these critical insights into Husserlian phenomenology of embodiment, sensation, and localisation. We introduce the distinction between Body-Object and Lived-Body to show how pain presents intersubjectively (e.g. from a patient to a clinician). Furthermore, we stress that, while pain seems to take a marginal position in Husserl’s whole corpus, its role is central in the transcendental constitution of the Lived-Body, interacting with the personal, interpersonal, and intersubjective levels of experiential constitution. Taking a critical-phenomenological perspective, we then concretely explore how some people may experience structural conditions which may make their experiences more or less painful.


‘Painful experience and constitution of the intersubjective self: a critical-phenomenological analysis’
Nicole Miglio and Jessica Stanier
BSP Podcast – Season 5 episode 98: 19 December 2020