Introducing Social Pain
There are two short case stories 'Regret' and 'Insurance' and a longer audio story 'Magnetic Resonance' that you can download and use to support teaching and training with those who are learning about social pain for the first time.
Regret - Background to audio case story
This case story is about a man who migrated England from India in the 1960s and is ageing with multiple illnesses. He is married and lives with his wife, but the relationship is a fraught one and he feels increasingly isolated and lonely. Looking back over his life, he feels that he has achieved very little.
You can use the case story to discuss how illness and dying can be occasions through which people reevaluate their lives. How might this experience be different for migrants? How might the pain of social exclusion be expressed in the story?
Magnetic Resonance - Background to audio case story
June Alexander is 63-years-old and was born in Jamaica. She settled in London in the 1950s and has multiple myeloma. June spent most of her working life as a hospital ‘domestic’ (a cleaner). She received her diagnosis, treatment and much of her subsequent care in the same hospital where she had worked. June is an active member of her Pentecostal church and finds a spiritual meaning in her pain, believing that suffering brings her closer to god.
One way of using the story is to read Magnetic Resonance up until the penultimate paragraph, marked by * (or if you are using the sound file, play the audio recording of the story to that point). Then ask people to complete the ending of the story themselves.
This is a technique that is used in narrative medicine. It is a simple, but powerful way to get closer to the story
and the worlds of the two characters – June Alexander and the radiographer, Gita.
Ten minutes is usually enough for this part of the exercise. When everyone has finished writing, can ask people to share their stories in pairs or you can ask for volunteers to read out their writing, asking the wider group, for their thoughts of what they have heard.
Then read the case story ending and invite more discussion