Book Release: Buchbinder’s “All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain”

This May 2015, Mara Buchbinder’s book All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain will be released by the University of California Press. The book grapples with the difficulty of expressing internal states to others via language, as these inner subjective experiences are often considered impossible to actualize in words. Buchbinder strives to honor this private experience of pain while studying how language surrounding pain and pain management is relational in nature. She explores how pain is described, managed, and treated in medical settings.

Image via UC Press

Image via UC Press

The text is a product of ethnographic research in numerous pediatric units in California hospitals. Buchbinder considers the social lives of physicians, caregivers, clinicians, parents, and children, all with a stake in alleviating pain and interpreting troubling or perplexing symptoms. Rather than allowing pain to be read solely as an isolating, private matter, the author argues that the treatment of pain is a complex social phenomenon. By focusing on narratives, conversations, and metaphors used by participants to illustrate the nature of pain, Buchbinder’s account underscores the power of language to generate shared meanings for human suffering.

All in Your Head will prove of interest to linguistic and medical anthropologists alike, as well as to scholars in the medical humanities with an interest in textual and communicative analysis in clinical settings. To learn more about this upcoming book, visit the publication page at the University of California Press here: http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520285224

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mara Buchbinder is Assistant Professor of Social Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she also teaches coursework in anthropology. She has previously coauthored the book Saving Babies? The Consequences of Newborn Genetic Screening.

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