Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The story of pain in pictures

Pain is a universal experience. Throughout time, everyone knows what it feels like to be in pain — whether it’s a scraped knee, toothache, migraine, or heart attack. Although the feeling of pain may remain the same, the ways in which it was described, treated, and interpreted in the 18th and 19th centuries varies greatly from the ways we regard pain today. The below slideshow of images from The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers by Joanna Burke will take you on a journey of pain through time.

Featured image credit: The unconscious man is nothing more than a passive on which little demons equipped with surgical instruments can operate. “The Effect of Chloroform on the Human Body”, watercolour by Richard Tennant Cooper, c. 1912, in the Wellcome Collection, V0017053. Used with permission.

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