chapter  4
26 Pages

Social Influences and the Communication of Pain

Pain is commonly described as emerging in the course of evolution as a biological system for signaling real or impending tissue damage and motivating withdrawal or escape from physical danger. These functions undoubtedly are essential to the safety and survival of all animal species, including humans, but do not address many uniquely human needs and capabilities that emerged in our societies. Evolution of the human brain, with its extensive capacities for those psychological computations associated with social interdependencies, complex problem solving, language, and speech, introduced novel features that must be understood if the complexities of human pain are to be appreciated. Reconsideration of the nature of pain from the broader perspective of human biological functioning necessitates consideration of the social ramifications of pain.