Wednesday, April 02, 2008

BBC World Service - Documentaries - Pain: body, mind, 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?

    • 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.

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.

In Part Two, 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.

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