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Workshop in Gurgaon seeks to understand the nature of pain through images

Whether temporary or of the chronic kind, pain causes immense suffering and causes most people to seek medical aid. It is not always possible to pinpoint the exact cause of pain and suffering to a doctor on precise terms and this affects diagnoses.

To explain the various levels of pain and suffering, a workshop called 'Visualising Pain' was organized in Gurgaon on a pilot basis guided by Dr Deborah Padfield, an expert from the University College, London.

Dr Padfield has been working with three to five people on an individual basis to co-create photographs that represent their individual experience of pain. "I am looking forward to seeing what images are produced and it will be interesting to see what we learn from each other and to begin to discover whether pain is so universal that there are commonalities in the way we experience and conceive it reflected in the images or whether the images will all be very culturally specific".

Dr Padfield believes that while people living in the United Kingdom and in India may use different objects to express their pain, many of the feelings and characteristics of the pain being expressed would be broadly similar.

The information is being gathered based on conversations with people about their experiences of pain, including people who have experienced chronic pain as well as caregivers, families and friends. Creating a visual understanding, she believes will help communicate with others easily.

By doing so, the workshop hopes to give a voice to many who suffer in silence as they are unable to get help. The findings, believe participants, has great relevance in the Indian context.

In India, discussing pain is considered a sign of weakness and people are encouraged to tolerate pain instead of seeking help. Being in pain constantly affects the mental health of a person and also has negative impact on their social, professional life. It is vital that we change the way people perceive talking about their pain. Dr Satendra Singh, University College of Medical Sciences

In the workshop participants were encouraged to express their feelings and experiences. The information shared by people coming from various backgrounds, medical conditions and health issues is being used to get a better understanding of how pain can be discussed in ore tangible manner.

Dr. Anubha Mahajan, Founder, Chronic Pain India, India's only pain survivor network, believes the workshop will change the way people think about chronic pain patients.

"People with chronic pain are not taken seriously by others as many a times they may not have a visible disability or deformity", she says. "Even medical professionals tend to discourage patients by making them feel that the pain is not physical but mental. Workshops like these can be eye opener for many and help create a better understanding of the struggles that people with chronic pain go through very day in their lives. "

Since every person has a different level of tolerance towards pain, the level of pain felt may vary in people with identical problems. It is therefore imperative to have some set standards that can help identify the pain felt by a person in clearer terms. This can be achieved by increasing the understanding about various levels and types of pains and collating the data for reference.

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