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week 2



-At first I had the reaction of, “This is total BS!”

-This feels like a mixture of personal statements, and analysis and description of a certain field of science. Although analysis can contain certain aspects of personal caliber, I feel as if the amant of annecdotal content was that closer to a personal essay. On the same hand, despite the plethera of statements specific to her own life, she provided far too much factual detail and clear cut analysis to be called simply a memoir or personal essay. Regardless of what this essay is not (definitive on its genre) it appeared to me as a factual explanation with personal statements used as support, rather than a personal essay backed up by facts.

-“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.”  This passage has followed me since I first read it.


-Asside from the main feeling of hope, and chances to improve in the future, there were occasional sections of hopelessness as well as confusion and uncertainty. When first told to ‘decrease pain’ Thernstrom had difficulty doing so right away. A following remark revealed a slight worry that she could.

-Just as any good and well-liked hero in a fantasy novel who has a human side, and flaws, I believe Thernstrom provides contrarian arguments to show that this is not some amazing process that is a cure-all.  By doing this I think she gives both credibility to the process, as well as identifiability to herself. As an advocate (in my opinion) of this treatment she gives praise to the process, but if that is all the reader hears, it may be written off as just another scripted testimonial about how great this miracle science is.

-Sections of Doubt…


-One of the most present themes I noticed was empowerment and ‘taking control’.

-I think that without directly requiring or expecting anything of us, Thernstrom just tries to get us to listen. I think her ultimate goal is to get us to suspend any disbilief and hold it suspended while we ruminate on it. She asks us to self-reflect, and ask ourselves what we think about this, how we think it might help us, and if we would even want to do it.


-In her paragraph, “Other studies have shown that opiates and other medications rely on a placeboto 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.” I became most aware of my disbilief. I honestly thought that drugs were drugs, and that if they work they do, and if they don’t, they don’t.

This paragraph, “Dwelling on the hopeless loneliness of my pain certainly made the flames of my rACC spark. The mental image that I found increased my pain the most, however, was the one that matched the visual analogue of the rACC: Picture a hot flame on your painful area. Try to make the flame grow in the painful area, and imagine it actually burning your flesh.” Began to back her statement up the most in my mind. The fact that she could do this really sunk in to me.

-Just a few paragraphs, I was stunned yet again when she could not in fact diminish her pain. This flip-flop of doubt, belief, doubt sent me for a loop. I guess this would make page four my favorite page seeing as how I have mentioned three paragraphs from it. The fact that there was action (in more of a mental sense) going on, and the testing was moving forward, and providing challange really caught my attention.

-By ending with questions from another person I believe that Thernstrom is stepping back from the article. She reminds us that this is not just a memoir but a field of science and that she is not critiquing it but opening it up to the public. These last few questions make the reader feel more comfortable questioning his/herself as well as placing the idea that this is a field that has a future and is changing and a work in process.


-While pain for some people may be bad, for others it can be other things. To some people it mgiht be a humanizing factor, ‘we are not gods, we are not exampt from pain’. To others it may be an expression of emotions and feelings. And still for another set of people pain can be desirable. Some people seek pain and make it into a ritual. I am sure there are even more reasons, but the point is, pain is not always bad in everybody’s mind.


-While not a text, the show “Fringe” came to mind. A lot of the theories put forth in this show require a suspension of disbilief, as did the article. Even more discussed is the idea of mind over matter, and a general sense of the mind as the most powerful (maybe not exploited to full potential) force and a person’s life. A book series that also comes to mind is the “Pendragon Series”. It also has widely unbelievable aspects, that are recognized within the book. And again the theme seems to be to suspend disbilief and if you think you can do something and believe it you will be able to.



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