© Borgis - New Medicine 2/2010, s. 63-65
Giampiero Camurati, *Fabio Gabrielli, Matteo Ianno, Franco Mauro
Patterns of suffering: an anthropological reading
Interfaculty Department for Scientific Research (D.I.R.S.) – L.U.de.S. University, Lugano, Switzerland
L.U.de.S. University, Switzerland
Head: Prof. Rodolfo Paoletti
Pain as laceration of the original Unit, and "feeling of nostalgia for the Centre”, becomes suffering when it reflects on itself, on its sense or non-sense.
In other words, pain as an ontic event, with biographical signs, refers to ontological pain, and, for a perfect interpretation, to the metahistorical laceration of the original Unit, to the "feeling of nostalgia for the Centre”, for the Beginning, for the lost Eden (to exemplify, from Orphism to Gnosticism to Christianity).
Their symbology has been employed ever since and unceasingly in man's existence and cultural productions, marking our biographies obsessively, from erotism to metaphysics. Medicine is really adult when it draws close to suffering – as structural, original data, that become daily suffering corporeity – from a humanological perspective. In this way it concerns not only the disease but also the illness and the sickness, i.e. the unrepeatable experience of the suffering subject and the social impact of the disease. Here we can see the centrality of the person, per se unum, an unrepeatable unit, different from any other one, and its correlated therapeutic intimacy, in the perspective of a humanological medicine, able to consider disease as a relational wound. This wound refers to bodily and everyday life violation, whose anguished experiences require empathy, discretion and attention.
In this context, philosophy, anthropology and human sciences in general may really contribute to medicine in order for it to become more and more attentive to people and their existential dynamics.
The experience of living pain as laceration of the original Unit
In one of Nietzsche's most significant pages of The Gay Science (1), it is emphasized how the experience of pain causes a substantial gestaltic re-orientation to those struck by suffering and to their relationships – such a radical fracture, such a deep dig destroying order, restructuring ethical and existential dynamics, regaining or losing the visions of the world. This is the point, in the sign of an unavoidable recovery of sense: "Only great pain is a liberator of the spirit [...] Only great pain, that long, slow pain that takes its time and in which we are burned, as it were, over green wood, forces us philosophers to descend into our ultimate depths and put aside all trust, everything good-natured, veiling, mild, average – things in which formerly we may have found our humanity. I doubt that such pain makes us 'better' – but I know that it makes us deeper.”
Pain as experience, as biological data, acquires an existential sense when it reflects on itself, namely it becomes suffering. Suffering has an axiological primacy on pain, insofar as it involves the whole man in attributing values and sense – that may also be the sense of a non-sense – to the specific feeling of living and living as such ( in der Welt sein).
Suffering is a privileged place for human integration. This means that enigma and fundamental mysteries always refer to the person as a unit of being, as harmonic co-existence of levels, as an interaction among biology, environment, ideas and values (2). To summarize, when pain opens a gash in one's life, and suffering gives origin to questions of sense embodying pain in a deep, mutual integration of nature and culture, the subject addresses the human spiritual productions: from religion to philosophy and myth, in order to look up to the often unspeakable abyss of suffering.
In other words, ontic pain, which arises hic et nunc with biographical signs, refers to ontological pain, and, for a perfect interpretation, to the metahistorical laceration of the original Unit, to the "feeling of nostalgia for the Centre”, for the Beginning, for the lost Eden (to exemplify, from Orphism to Gnosticism to Christianity). Their symbology has been employed ever since and unceasingly in man's cultural productions, marking our biographies obsessively, from erotism to metaphysics: "At the most fundamental levels there are transitions from continuous to discontinuous or from discontinuous to continuous. We are discontinuous beings, individuals who perish in isolation in the midst of an incomprehensible adventure, but we yearn for our lost continuity. We find the state of affairs that binds us to our random and ephemeral individuality hard to bear. Along with our tormenting desire that this evanescent thing should last, there stands our obsession with a primal continuity liking us with everything that is” (3).
Medical humanology as a real person's recognition
Medicine can be named as such insofar as it assumes the form of a qualitative synthesis of technophilia, "loving what is art”, and philanthropia, "loving what is human”: from ancient philanthropy to medical humanology.
Medical humanology consists in the acknowled-gement of an excess, of a transcendence of all that is deep, the person ( per se unum, an unrepeatable unit, irreducible to any other one) as a total reality compared to what is considered a phenomenon, mere sensibility: I cannot explore a person by turning around him or her as if it were an armchair. I would perform an inadequate action from an ontological point of view (4).
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