Current health care discussions often deal with issues such as self-determination, consumer orientation, civil rights and choices for patients and people with disabilities. Other experiences of illness and disability, such as pain and suffering are often avoided in these discussions because these expressions seem to confirm the public prejudice of tragic victimhood of people with disabilities. Various scholars have sought to reintroduce the enactment of the sick and disabled body into the discourses around disability. This essay is a part of that endeavour. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork from a centre for physical rehabilitation, this article questions the idea that suffering turns people into passive victims of their bodies. By articulating the ways in which participants deal with suffering during the day-to-day activities of rehabilitation practice, the paper seeks to demonstrate that people do not passively sink into their suffering, but actively deal with it in the multiple settings and conditions of their embodied living. Three different ways in which rehabilitation participants deal with suffering will be unravelled. First, suffering is translated in the sense that it is transformed and transferred. Second, people actively manage their situation and balance different kinds of misery. Finally, people create a space where suffering is allowed to exist.

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Cultural Studies
Research Policy

Struhkamp, R. (2005). Wordless pain. Dealing with suffering in physical rehabilitation. Cultural Studies, 19(6), 701–718. doi:10.1080/09502380500365655