1st Edition

Communicating Pain Exploring Suffering through Language, Literature and Creative Writing

By Stephanie de Montalk Copyright 2019
    262 Pages
    by Routledge

    262 Pages
    by Routledge

    Combining critical research with memoir, essay, poetry and creative biography, this insightful volume sensitively explores the lived experience of chronic pain.

    Confronting the language of pain and the paradox of writing about personal pain, Communicating Pain is a personal response to the avoidance, dismissal and isolation experienced by the author after developing intractable pelvic pain in 2003. The volume focuses on pain's infamous resistance to verbal expression, the sense of exile experienced by sufferers and the under-recognised distinction between acute and chronic pain. In doing so, it creates a platform upon which scholarly, imaginative and emotional quotients round out pain as the sum of physical actualities, mental challenges and psychosocial interactions. Additionally, this work creates a dialogue between medicine and literature. Considering the works of writers such as Harriet Martineau, Alphonse Daudet and Aleksander Wat, it enables a multi-genre narrative heightened by poetry, fictional storytelling and life-writing.

    Coupled with academic rigour, this insightful monograph constitutes a persuasive and unique exploration of pain and the communication of suffering. It will appeal to students and researchers interested in fields such as Medical Humanities, Autobiography Studies and Sociology of Health and Illness.


    1. The shirt of Nessos: an essay on the experience of writing about pain

    2. Going nursing: an autobiographical prelude

    3. At the end of the mind, the body: a memoir, 2003-2004

    4. But at the end of the body, the mind: a memoir, 2004-2009

    5.The vendor of happiness: an interview with French novelist Alphonse Daudet (1802-1876)

    6.The consolator: an introduction to English social theorist Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)

    7. Observatory: a narrative poem set in Harriet Martineau's sick-room

    8. An imago: a contemplation of Polish poet and intellectual, Aleksander Wat (1900 – 1967)

    9. How does it hurt? An epilogue

    10. White train: a narrative poem

    Appendix of images





    Stephanie de Montalk worked as a nurse and documentary film maker before becoming a writer in 1996. She is the author of four collections of poems, a literary novel, a memoir-biography and the award-winning memoir-study of pain: How Does It Hurt?; adapted from her PhD thesis in Creative Writing. Since an accident in 2003, she has been constrained by pain.