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Obdurate pains, transient intensities: affect and the chronically pained body

  • Linguistics


In contrast to other discourse-centric explorations, I rethink the embodied experience of chronic pain through an affective ontology. Drawing on intensity, as a way of coming to know the qualitative experiential dimension of affect as diminished or heightened, I explore some of the complex relationships between intensity, desirability, and intentionality that cohere around pained bodies. In contrast to transient pain, chronic pain is presented as an undesirable affective intensity that has no recourse to intentionality and meaning but territorialises the body in ways that prevent other intensities from taking hold. Through an encounter with a pain-management programme, I explore a number of strategies for deterritorialising the chronically pained body in order to open it up to more desirable intensities. I argue that ultimately it is the progressive vulnerability and openness that deterritorialisation promises that is the key to becoming otherwise.

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