Pain: Body, mind, culture

Pain: Body, mind, culture

How do we handle pain today?

Painkillers are more popular today than ever

Experiencing pain is an elemental part of what makes us who we are. It lies at the intersection bewteen body, mind and culture.

In this two part series, BBC Iraq correspondent, Andrew North, takes a personal journey through pain.

A few years ago, after reporting on the US invasion of Iraq, Andrew himself became paralysed with a debilitating condition in which his immune system attacked the nerves across his body.

His face became paralysed. As the pain spread through his body it felt like a hole in his back was being ripped open. He asked himself why me? Why is this happening? Will it ever end? The only way he could respond was to scream inside.

Today, he has fully recovered. In his work as the correspondent in Baghdad, he witnesses the pain of others every day. In these programmes he discovers how his own experiences are reflected in other people's lives.

In this second programme on Pain, Andrew explores the strategies we use to survive pain, through expressing and suppressing it.

How far is it possible to suppress pain? Drug companies are making billions convincing us that we now possess more knowledge and remedies than ever before, but pain continues to overwhelm millions.

Andrew talks to a pain doctor from the United States about America's more aggressive approach to pain control. He meets artist Deborah Padfield and speaks to her and her patients about a more creative way to express and deal with their pain.

Andrew also finds out how the South African actor John Kani has conquered the pain he felt after the murder of his brother.Additionally, the programme World Have your Say is hosting a discussion about Pain on Wednesday 13 February, and they would like listeners to contribute by sending in their experiences of dealing with pain.

Visit their site at for more information.

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