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week 2

Focused Freewriting: Thernstrom(DRAFT)

Category 1:

1) My first thoughts on Thernstrom’s article were that she effectively informed me of events regarding the fMRI and the chronic pain solution of neuroimaging.

2) The article seemed to have taken a fairly personal but informative route. Thernstrom was very descriptive in the scientific field of the article while expressing her thoughts and emotions during the given events.


Increase Your Pain, the screen commanded, as the first run began. I tried to recall the mental strategies in which I had been prepped for increasing pain: Dwell on how hopeless, depressed or lonely you felt when your pain was most severe. Sense that the pain is causing long-term damage.

I felt that this passage was most important to me because it was an “in the moment” scene and simply put me directly into the event. It truly brought up the reality of the article.

Who hasn’t wished she could watch her brain at work and make changes to it, the way a painter steps back from a painting, studies it and decides to make the sky a different hue? If only we could spell-check our brain like a text, or reprogram it like a computer to eliminate glitches like pain, depression and learning disabilities. Would we one day become completely transparent to ourselves, and — fully conscious of consciousness — consciously create ourselves as we like?

This passage seems to be the most important to Thernstrom because it brought up the main question and really got the reader to question the brain and its potential, which smoothly developed into a nice, flowing article.

Category 2:

1) Other than the clear optimism of the article, Thernstrom stirs up feelings of suspense and hopefulness. By telling stories of herself and other people, she effectively sets multiple climaxes into her article.

2) Thernstrom says “The aspect of my pain I feel most certain about is that it is not voluntary: I cannot modulate it.” and openly states her sparks of doubtfulness about the process. She was aware of how absurd one might think neuroimaging and controlling pain was, despite the altercations of the placebo effect and other outstanding psychological “tricks”.

3) Thernstrom asks “Will I be able to learn it? ” in lue of brain control and thought manipulation. The appearance of such a question indefinetly poses as a main question throughout the article. By asking this question, Thernstrom plants a background question into the reader, creating a general thesis. Throughout the whole article, the reader would constantly be asking himself/herself if and how she would learn to control her thoughts and numb her pain.

Category 3:

1) I think that the word that really carries Thernstrom’s article is “placebo”. It is used effectively throughout the article and truly relates to the main topic. Thernstrom goes into great detail about the placebo effect and how it is used to relieve pain.

2) Thernstrom asks the reader to follow through on her writing. Her article was created to send a message to the general public and inform the reader about chronic pain and the search for brain manipulation.

Category 4:



Other studies have shown that opiates and other medications rely on a placebo to achieve part of their effect. When subjects are covertly given strong opiates like morphine, they don’t work nearly as well as they do if the subjects are told they are being given a powerful pain reliever. Even real medications require some of the brain’s own bounty.

This passage strikes me because it was shocking to learn that some medications must fall back onto a placebo characteristic in order to work.

3) Thernstrom ends her article with a series of questions voiced by someone else to sort of take a step back from her own thoughts and proccesses. She attempts to bring the reader back and take the position of themselves and ask their own questions. Using a different voice allows Thernstrom to bring up a different perspective of the topic.

Category 5:

1) An important detail that isn’t mentioned in the article is the fact that the brain works off of cells which in turn makes us into groups of cells. This leads to a theory of how we can be changed into a completely different person by simply injecting us with a single super cell. With this theory, we can assume that pain might be able to completely vanish from daily human lifestyle as we dwell deeper into complex technology.

2) Thernstrom cites Dr. Jon-Kar Zubeita, from the University of Michigan, and writes about his experiments with the placebo effect and explains his findings. He injected a stinging saltwater solution into the jaws of 14 men and treated each of them with a placebo. Thernstrom also talks about Irene Tracey, who discovered that when asked about their chronic pain, patients would feel more pain. The inclusion of experts into the article defines its depth and Thernstrom’s outreach regarding the topic.

Category 6:

1) “My Pain, My Brain” reminds me of “The Justice League”, in which super heros from the DC Universe come together as a team to fight crime. The link between the latter seems strange, but by looking at Thernstrom’s article as a whole, “controlling the brain” could serve to be a super power.




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