Pain: body, mind, culture

Pain: body, mind, culture

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

In this two part series, former BBC Iraq correspondent, Andrew North, takes a personal journey through his own experience of pain and that of others.

A few years ago, after reporting on the US invasion of Iraq, North became paralysed as a result of a debilitating illness. He asked himself, why me? Why is this happening? Will it ever end?

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

In Part One, North looks at how power, or the lack of it, shapes an individual's experience of pain.

In sharing the stories of victims of torture in Iraq and elsewhere, he finds out how those who are utterly powerless cope with suffering, and asks whether pain can simply be divided into the physical and the mental.

And he also meets those who seek out pain as a way of asserting their own power, like the cyclist Magnus Backstedt.

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.

  • Pain

    • Part One
      How power - or the lack of it - shapes an individual's experience of pain.
    • Part Two
      The strategies we use to survive pain, through expressing and suppressing it.