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How Can We Measure Human Suffering for Medical purposes?


19/12/2018
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Abstract: Recent years have witnessed growing demands that physicians become more attentive in the evaluation of their patients' suffering, introduced by Eric Cassel (1982) as one of the fundamental goals of medicine. These concerns have not fallen on deaf ears, but were difficult to follow in the absence of appropriate methods for simple use by the healthcare professionals. To fill this gap, I propose an integrative approach that relies on both philosophy, experimental and clinical research seeking to provide a measure accompanied by an interpretation of the patient's suffering. My goal is to provide the medical profession with a simple and effective tool for diagnosing the suffering in patients. To demonstrate a 10 year research, the talk will start with philosophical concepts on pain and suffering embedded into experimental and clinical studies assessing pain-related suffering in healthy volunteers and then in chronic pain patients. During our five year collaborative investigation in Germany and Luxembourg (PASCOM project), we aimed to first induce suffering in a pain laboratory setting and secondly to manipulated it by means of stimulation length, frequency of stimulation, and various stimulation methods. Our results confirm the possibilities of measuring pain-related suffering in experimental pain and what psychological variables testify to who is more prone to suffer under pain. The next, completing, stage will be to study the mechanisms underlying the interplay between pain and suffering in brain processes using artificial intelligence and applying current approaches in cognitive sciences.

Biography: Dr Smadar Bustan is a philosopher and a scientist. She first conducted experimental studies at the Pain Laboratory, the University of Luxembourg (Prof. F. Anton) and then clinical studies on pain and suffering at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research unit situated at the Pain Clinic at Hospital Ambroise Paré, Paris. She is the co-founder at Harvard and head of the Interdisciplinary and International Program on Suffering and pain (www.suffering-pain.com). She also teaches Modern and Contemporary Philosophy as well as Philosophy of Cognitive Sciences and philosophy of Medicine at the University of the Catholic Institute of Paris and the University of Paris Diderot.


Speaker: Dr Smadar Bustan, Université Paris Diderot
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