Towards an understanding of sudden, unexplained, prolonged pain in a Muslim context
This thesis examines how Shia Muslims react to sudden, unexplained, and prolonged pain. In doing so, the thesis frames physical pain not only as physiological phenomenon but also as a phenomenon that is defined by historical, cultural and social context. Sudden, unexplained and prolonged pain not only produces physical hurt, it also has the capacity to interrupt individuals' social activities and as a consequence their identities and the meanings with which they are associated. For this reason,
... d. For this reason, it is argued that biomedicine and psychology are not always capable of giving satisfactory accounts of the experience of pain. This failure frequently leads individuals who succumb to sudden, unexplained and prolonged pain to look for meaning in religious or quasi-religious experience. The thesis first explores historically divergent conceptions of pain. It then gives an overview of biomedical, psychological and sociological and anthropological conceptions of pain. A theoretical framework is developed that connects the experience of pain with broader social meanings, identity and the body. This framework is used to analyse qualitative data collected through semi-structured interviews with Shia Muslim scholars and Shia Muslim respondents who have experienced or are experiencing sudden unexplored pain. It is shown that the religious worldview provides believers with cultural resources that allow them to negotiate the crisis of meaning and identity provoked by the experience of sudden, unexplained, prolonged pain.