Life-giving law

Virginia Woolf wrote in her essay “On Being Ill”: “English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the shiver and the headache. . . . The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare and Keats to speak for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.” The fact that pain is resistant to language is no accident; indeed, acute or chronic pain can cruelly interfere with communication—even with the ability to speak at all. Sufferers are isolated from those around them by the very fact of their pain, which creates a burden of suffering distinct from the pain itself.

 

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