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Pain doesn’t stigmatize people. We do that to each other

Pain doesn’t stigmatize people. We do that to each other

Synopsis

This is a bit heavier reading yet really important, Pain doesn’t stigmatize people. We do that to each other. By DANIEL S. GOLDBERG JANUARY 23, 2020 – published on StatNews.com. Well worth a read. For the full article you can the the link. 

 A bioethicist who did his PhD on stigma in chronic pain: 

‘I view stigma as the combination of difference plus deviance: An in-group marks an out-group as different on the basis of a shared demographic characteristic, then judges the out-group as deviant. This is precisely what happens too many people in pain. They are marked as different because of their pain, and then have that pain denied, invalidated, and delegitimized. This is more likely to happen to women and racial or ethnic minorities than to white men.’

To alleviate pain stigma, we also have to decouple it from the stigma directed toward opioid use. While these two types of stigma often occur in the same spaces, they are not identical. We stigmatize people in pain, like my friend Andrea, who neither take nor desire opioids. And we stigmatize individuals who take opioids even if they do not live with chronic pain. A focus on opioid stigma is welcome and important, but it is not equivalent to intervening specifically to address pain stigma. Both of these terrible burdens deserve our attention and efforts.

We have tools to effectively and fairly treat people who live with chronic pain. We have the power to help them live better. We should do so, and without stigma.

The author

Daniel S. Goldberg is a faculty member in the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and associate professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. He is the principal investigator of an epidemiologic study related to addiction stigma funded by The Well Being Trust, a 501(c)(3).

Professor Goldberg also wrote ‘Pain, objectivity and history: understanding pain stigma‘ in BMJ and they did an interview with him about it: https://blogs.bmj.com/medical-humanities/2017/12/21/daniel-goldberg-shame-stigma-medicine/

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