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Previous Issue: Volume 19, No. 9 , Week of March 21, 2004
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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: March 26, 2004
Latest Update: April 1, 2004
Topic of the Week: Communicating Pain
That horrible self-portrait I have on the wall in my office was painted when I was suffering continuous headaches. I painted the silly thing to make the doctors see past the "me" that looked perfectly fine to them. One even told me he couldn't help me because I wasn't in pain! Duh! And that was in a pain clinic in a famous hospital. I just didn't do pain right. So they figured I didn't have any.
I know that sounds incredible, but it's real. I carried the portrait into the doctor's office, but needed to stop in a clerical office of the hospital first. The clerk asked about the painting, and I told him it was a self-portrait. "Oh," he sympathized, "you poor thing." But the doctor couldn't see that the portrait told him anything. He needed my answers on a scale of 1 to 10 of whether the pain was pounding or searing or . . . I was not tolerant. I was not patient. But "poor thing," I was hurting.
That clinic never helped, but a few months later I suffered a C2 fraction in a sigalert on the Harbor Freeway at 11 p.m. one night. When I returned to consciousness the pain, that horrible pain the doctors couldn't see, was gone. My husband thought it was the medication they were giving me. But the specialist struggling to get my metabolism rebalanced from some misdiagnosed meds, informed him that the medication had nothing to do with the pain. That pain, he told us, was alleviated when my neck broke. The break altered the energy flows, and the awful, continuous acute pain just went away.
A part of me didn't believe that doctor. After all, the pain clinic in the same hospital . . . I waited, terrified, for the pain to return . . . but it never did. I was indeed blessed by that accident. Oh, now I have headaches, or more accurately, neck aches; it's not good to break your neck in your 60s. But two aspirin takes these away.
I hadn't thought much about any of this until the discussion on the listserv this week of photo essays. Medical journals are beginning to understand that visual sociology has much to tell us. They are using photo essays to empower patients to describe what they cannot tell in words. At least they are acknowledging that words sometimes fail us.
Dr. Mary Shaw, Senior Research Fellow, Scientific Director, South West Public Health Observatory, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, sent me the following photo essays because I asked about submitting some of our work. They are using photographs. But they would consider the use of art, if we put the essay together. This should help us with our work for this Spring's Exhibit.
as if … visualizing pain A photoessay by Deborah Padfield and Brian Hurwitz. © Ms Deborah Padfield; all rights reserved. International Journal of Epidemiology 2003;32:704–707.
Childhood Photographs by Achinto, text by Mary Shaw. Children in India, who lack the environment for play, security, learning, yet still discover the play of childhood.
My personal reaction is that the photos need discourse. They tell us something without that discourse. But I think we would learn more about pain if we allowed the pictures, photos, paintings, whatever to speak with us, instead of just alone. I understand that the narrative we tell would only be from one perspective, and that many different narratives would apply. I'd just like to see the narratives happen, in our naked space.
Compare to last week's piece, A Black Dog Came Calling by John Darwell, on depression. How do you explain what depression feels like in words?
This week is Spring Break. No classes.
Theory, Methods, Praxis, and Projects
Added Thursday, April 1, 2004: Photo-Elicitation as Visual Methodology PDF file is up. Essay not up yet. But some of you may want to read ahead.
Added Tuesday, March 30, 2004: Tour of Chernobyl Photoessay on Chernobyl. I'll back up the whole site eventually, because the author says it's down sometimes. Meanwhile see The Essential Role of Labor: Cost of Destroying Public Governance on the conceptual link of this photoessay to our discussions of the labor market.
Added Monday, March 29, 2004: This came over the IVSA listserv today. I gotta get this book:
There's a great book by Joe Tobin titled "Good Guys Don't Wear Hats," which discusses children's racial and ethnic perceptions very nicely - using both photos and TV shows.
Hope all's well,
Added Monday, March 29, 2004: Answerability and the Labor Market: Coercing the Worker in a Tight Labor Market Two recent incidents considered in light of the recent supermarket strike. Discussion questions included, and project suggestion.
I would like to see some of you connect this issue with this week's topic: communicating pain, especially the pain of depression. Depression is a major and increasing health concern. Where will the concern for the harm we are causing workers come into our public health plans. Are we really prepared to care for millions of depressed adults and children? Can we continue to ignore it; to deny the need to understand it? Could some of you work with someone you know, adult or child, depressed, and get them to do a photoessay with you? jeanne
Added Sunday, March 28, 2004: First Draft of Proposed Paper on Naked Space Exhibit This would probably help those who are new to the Spring Exhibit. I suggest that those of you interested in attending either the IVSA and/or the ASA conferences in San Francisco in August, share in editing and presenting this paper. jeanne
Syllabus for Naked Space, Spring 2004 Exhibit
Naked Space Exhibit Work
Plans for Comprehensive Exams Study Group
A Range of Sources on Global Events
Left/Right Perspectives - Cursor - New York Times
Arts and Letters Daily - The Economist - The Guardian
Wall Street Journal -The Weekly Standard - The Nation
Los Angeles Times - Chicago Tribune - The Washington Post
Cursor's Al Jazeera Archive - Ha'aretz - Palestine Monitor
Indymedia - Mother Jones - BBC News - New Profile
Progressive Sociologists Network
Evaluating Internet Resources
Evaluating Hoax Email with samples, including an old one about charging for email that's going around again. Link updated March 29, 2004.
Evaluating Internet Resources Library Site at University of North Carolina. Don't forget to question. This is a good detailed source. Link checked March 29, 2004.
Using Academic Language Effectively:
|Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:|
Dictionary of Critical Sociology
Maintained by Robert E. Mazur, Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Sociology.
Words of Art: Front Page
Wonderful Fine Arts dictionary at Okanagan University College in Canada.
Will cover many of the terms social theory shares with literary theory.
Today's Word: From the Word.A.Day Site
Careers and Jobs:
Added Thursday, April 1, 2004: Burn Out with OutSourcing
I'd like to start a project for the Spring Exhibit on jobs, outsourcing, and professional identity. How do we presently view jobs and careers? As part of our existence, a necessary part, but one fully balanced by family and spiritual attachment to other spheres (as Habermas would call the other spheres)? How do we view outsourcing? As taking jobs away from people who deserve them? or as creating new opportunities for us?
If you think creating new opportunities makes it worth the loss of outsourced jobs, I suggest you pay close attention to the expressions all around of us fatigue. It has become a recent concern that people are sufficiently exhausted to fall asleep while driving. Creativity requires discretionary time. Could we put together a photo essay or an art project on discretionary time and work? How much of what we do at work is necessary? and how much is bureacratic, mind-dulling routine that could be accomplished by automatons, which is what we are training our workers to be? Hey, don't miss that this is a biased perspective. I support critical thinking. What does the conservative "training" camp suggest is the advantage to our infrastructure of creating little exploited automatons? Susan Fellows used to talk about their turning us into sub-human life forms. I think the problem with that theory is that it would be cheaper if we left out "life" and just created sub-human technotons.
Why do we have to become aware of this issue, and make the whole community aware of it? Because Chernobyl is the kind of thing that happens when ordinary folks quit taking responsibility for what happens in ordinary towns in ordinary places.
"The Migration Transitions Project: Photonarratives with Latina Immigrant Women" by Deborah Bender and Melanie Wasserman, an exhibition at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies in Durham. For those of you wondering how sociology fits into the health field, be sure to look at this project. It was posted on the IVSA listserv. jeanne
Added Thursday, April 1, 2004: The emphasis on profit in this culture, and in the enforcement of serious intent and hard work, sometimes obscures the extent to which play is an integral part of our work. Both Susan and I are overwhelmed this semester by how much "work" we have, just as we thought we were getting to that stage of the work cycle in which we could coast a little on past performance. Nevermind that I've retired. Nevermind that Susan is carrying an awful overload. Look at the opportunities for growth and achievement that offers. Before you decide that that sounds like a reasonable argument read the following email exchange between me and Susan this week.
jeanne: You know, I think interpassivity is lots more than it's cracked up to be. Oh, and the doctor confirmed that I fall over to the right today. He called it an equilibrium problem and told me not to take any drunk driving tests. I got my eye instead of my nose. jeanne
Susan: maybe we should write a "book" on interpassivity, then. our next book? lmao!! (email speak for "laughing my tush off" taught us by Mac, a UWP student)
jeanne: Cut that out! I'm serious. this is theory. lmao!
Susan: okay. good dog, good dog. how's that?p.s. i've got a full prof tenure and promotion file to put together by friday, and a position authorization request by monday. now if i'm not in desperate need of some interpassivity, then who else is?
Jeanne: Gee, I've got Spring break! love and peace, anyway. jeanne
Susan: wish i had a spring break. mine came and went and i was interpassive, then, too!
Added Saturday, March 27, 2004: Just 20, She Captures Altered Japan in a Debut Novel Article by Norimitsu Onishi, at P. A4. Backup. The article recounts the recent winning of Japan's top literary award by a 20-year-old, Hitomi Kanehara. The novel is not yet translated from Japanese, but brings up the whole issue of coming of age novels and their role in the culture of our age and other ages. Coming of Age in a New Age. Discussion questions included. Project suggestions included.
Added Saturday, March 27, 2004:
A scene from The Story of the Weeping Camel," about shepherds' lives in the desert. " Backup. This movie follows Flaherty's mission to capture traditions of cultures far from his own. Though similar in motivation, it is modest and leisurely, rather than epic and obsessive like Flaherty's films. The filmmakers' patience and the quality of the images they obtain give a mellow contentment to the project, a thoughtful and honest serenity that is passed on to viewers." The little came's mother rejected it after a difficult child birth. It's not easy being young in this world.
Who To Take:
It's awful to find yourself in a new school or a new department where you don't know anyone, and you have to select classes and teachers without any sense of what they're like. An old Orange County Site has renewed itself with new protections for all and with a new administration. Please take a look at the site at WhoToTake.net. If you had bookmarked WhoToTake.com, change to this site. The old one is permanently down.
The site, properly maintained, as I think it will be, offers you a chance to give feedback to your teachers on teaching strategies that help, on clues to ways that your answerability is blocked, on the situatedness that is different from what it was in their day. It also gives a means for students, whether they know each other or not, to exchange really important information.
I would consider this pretty solid project material, if someone wanted to do an analysis of the site as a mean of enhancing answerability. jeanne