Pain And Suffering Project | Interdisciplinary Program

Pain and Suffering: from philosophical concepts to psychobiological mechanisms (PASCOM)

The aim of the PASCOM project, jointly financed by the Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR) and the German Research Foundation (DFG), is to use an innovative phenomenological conceptual approach combining psychological, neuroscientific and philosophical stances to better understand pain and suffering.

This effort is pursued as a collaborative research between the Pain Research Laboratory at the University of Luxembourg, directed by Prof. Fernand Anton, and the Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at the Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University Mannheim, Germany, directed by Prof. Dr. Herta Flor.

The two groups consider that diverse interpretations in separated domains often limit our understanding and reduce our proficiency for alleviating pain. In this framework, the PASCOM project seeks to provide a novel transdisciplinary framework for research, with a strong scientific basis, which will give scientists and persons working in the humanities alike access to knowledge on pain and suffering from an integrative perspective.

The philosophical approach, developed by Dr. Smadar Bustan, proposes to employ a diagrammatical reasoning, intersecting the sufferer’s inner world with his social world. In breaking down this global and theoretical methodology into smaller, experimentally testable versions by Dr. Sandra Kamping, we wish to examine to what extend the experiences of pain and suffering are centered in the private experience or in a person’s social and cultural interaction with the others.

Experimentally targeting the cases when the two worlds converge or diverge, the two groups, along with the PhD students Martin Löffler, Michael Brunner, will be able to constrain the different crossing points and better define the relation between Pain and Suffering by identifying pain stimulations methods and parameters that are appropriate for the induction of variable levels of pain on one hand and suffering on the other hand. Our continuous exchange will allow us to conduct additional 2 sets of studies in order to measure, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, to what extent the exchanges between the inner world of pain and the social realm connect them together or instead reinforce their divide

Psychobiology, Neurophysiology Pain Laboratory, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
{LAB website}

 Dr. Smadar Bustan 
Selected Papers Online Dr. Smadar Bustan is a philosopher, conducting in parallel experimental work in the field of pain research. She has a PhD in philosophy by both the Sorbonne University (France) & the University of Tel-Aviv (Israel). Her thesis concerned the relation between phenomenology and ethics. During her Sachs Fellow visiting position at the Philosophy Department at Harvard University, she focused on the bridge between European and American philosophies in...

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 Dr. Ana María González Roldán 
Dr. Ana María González Roldán is a psychologist and neuroscientist working in the field of chronic pain. In 2008, she obtained a Master of Neuroscience, in the University of Balearic Islands and joined the Department of Neurodynamicsand Clinical Psychology, at the Research Institute on Health Sciences (IUNICS), University of Balearic Islands, Spain. In 2013, she obtained a PhD in Neuroscience from the same University under the supervision of Professor Dr. Pedro Montoya. Her thesis...

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 Prof. Fernand Anton 
Dr. Fernand Anton is a Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Luxembourg and the head of the pain research laboratory. In addition, he is a member of the editorial board of ISRN Pain. Prof. Anton received a PhD degree in psychology from the University of Innsbruck in 1983 and subsequently spent postdoctoral periods at the Physiology Department of the University of Heidelberg and at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). After that he was a research associate at the...

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 Angela Odero 
Angela Odero is a Masters student in Psychology (Evaluation and Assessment) at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations with and a double minor in Psychology and Integrated studies, from the United States International University (USIU - Kenya). Her working experience concerns qualitative analysis, evaluating professional performance and the ways to improve it. She is a full member of the PASCOM team, conducting experiments while...

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 Dr. Immo Curio 
After vocational training in telecommunications, Dr.rer.nat. Immo Curio studied physics at the Humboldt-University in Berlin with focus on biophysics. He received a PhD in Psychophysiology with thesis about a psycholinguistic topic: Semantic conditioning of vasomotor responses. From 1971-1983 he worked in the Department of Psychophysiology at the Central Institute for Cardiovascular Research (now the Max-Delbrück-Center) and later at the Institute for Psychotherapy and Neurosis...

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 Changling ZHOU 
Changling ZHOU, is a Master student in Psychology (Evaluation and Assessment) at the University of Luxembourg. She has a bachelor in Information science (data base analysis, system and meta data) and a Master degree in International commerce from the University of Sun-Yat-Sen, Canton, China. Following her studies she worked 8 years in the FMCG industry, in purchasing and quality assurance at the international company Procter & Gamble in China. Since in Luxembourg, she has been...

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Department of cognitive and clinical neuroscience. Central institute of mental health. Medical faculty Mannheim. Heidelberg university.
{LAB website}

 Dr. Sandra Kamping 
Dr. Sandra Kamping is a psychologist, adult therapist and neuroscientist working in the field of chronic pain. In 2006, she joined the Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience working with its scientific director Professor Dr. Herta Flor, at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. Her main research interest lies in the area of chronic pain comprising a wide range of chronic pain disorders (i.e. chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, chronic widespread pain...

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 Martin Löffler 
From 2005 to 2011, Martin Löffler studied psychology at the Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck (University of Innsbruck, Austria). During that time he did an internship at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, Department of Cognitive Psychology (Prof. Dr. Pierre Sachse) on the topic of Visual attention and Inattentional Blindness. His diploma thesis was about sleep-dependent offline processing of social cues (Supervisor: Dipl.-Psych. Dr. Stefan Fischer at the Department of...

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 Prof. Herta Flor 
Professor Herta Flor is a neuroscientist and the scientific director of the department of Neuropsychology at the University of Heidelberg, Central Institute for Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany. Most of her work on the topic of pain focuses on the role of learning and memory processes and related plastic changes of the brain in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. A special focus has also been on the development and evaluation of new interdisciplinary behaviorally...

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 Michael Brunner 
Michael studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria, from 2003 on and graduated in psychology in 2011 at the University of Klagenfurt with a focus on cognitive and clinical psychology. Upon receiving an Erasmus Grant from the European Union, he worked for a year at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Mannheim (2006-2007). During his studies, he did internships at the Otto-Selz Institute for Applied Psychology (University of Mannheim), at...

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