An Interdisciplinary Symposium


PASCOM at the Interdisciplinary Symposium (Health and Phenomenology) at OXFORD UNIVERSITY, Torch Research Center

“On the 27th & 28th March, the Oxford Phenomenology Network hosted this inaugural conference at the Oxford Research Centre in The Humanities, bringing together a wide array of disciplines for a fascinating exchange of ideas, research, and critique within the context of medical and phenomenological studies in health. Its mission statement was to “explore the interrelations between phenomenology and health from a wide variety of perspectives” (event organisers Cleo Hanaway-Oakley and Erin Lafford; see Cleo’s post on the Life of Breath blog, ‘To breath is all that is required‘). This was certainly achieved, via talks on subjects from philosophical, medical, literary and scientific perspectives including the phenomenology of mental health; of disability; of motherhood; in literature; of living and dying; of breast cancer; in medical encounters, and many more. “

“Most of the talks were relevant to our project remit by virtue of the focus on phenomenology and health. However, some themes stood out, including link between chronic pain and breathlessness that runs through several previous posts (see, for example, Breathless in Cambridge and Signal Failure? Thinking outside the lung). Indeed, the conference provided refreshing opportunities to see how phenomenological insights have guided research. This was shown in Smadar Bustan and Sandra Kamping’s paper on combining phenomenology and experimental pain research. It reminded me of how models such as ‘total pain’ have been used to create analogous ‘total dyspnoea’ models, and how these alternative models incorporate a fuller picture of the impact of pain and suffering on the whole embodied and socially-situated person, rather than focusing on symptoms.”

Breathless in Oxford


Angela Odero

Angela-OderoAngela 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 focusing on data analysis and the elaboration of a new questionnaire.

Dr. Immo Curio

Dr. Immo CurioAfter 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 Research in Berlin. His research was focused on Cardiovascular Psychophysiology and Clinical Psychology, especially psychophysiological diagnostics and biofeedback. After three years at Federal Health Office in Berlin, where he worked on annoyance and health risk caused by military low-altitude flight noise, he became Head of the Psychophysiological Lab at the University of Bonn’s Psychological Institute. His research focus was on physiological correlates of pain and somatoform disorders. Methodologically, his focus was on physiological data processing and single case analyses. After retiring in 2000, he specialized in Biomedical Instrumentation and Monitoring and he had built Psychophysiological Laboratories at the Universities of Basel, Trier, Zürich, Ulm, Salzburg, and the Charité hospital in Berlin. In addition, he developed and built prototypes of special research instruments, and he is an advisor for problems of interfacing laboratory devices.

Dr. Smadar Bustan

Selected Papers Online

Smadar Bustan is a philosopher who joined the Psychophysiology and Neurophysiology Laboratory at the University of Luxembourg to conduct experimental studies on pain and suffering. She is also the Founder and Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary and International Program on Suffering and Pain. In 2005, she received a PhD in philosophy from both the Sorbonne Paris IV and the University of Tel-Aviv (summa cum laude. Advisors: Profs. Jean François Courtine & Adi Ophir). As a visiting scholar at the philosophy department at Harvard University, she collaborated with Hilary Putnam. Upon her return to Europe, she worked at the philosophy department at the University of Luxembourg, and she continues to teach philosophy at the University of the Institut Catholique de Paris, France. Her research and publications cover the fields of phenomenology, ethics and political philosophy, mind-body theories, and the bridge between the Continental and American philosophies. She is working on a theory on Pain and Suffering that is now being tested experimentally in the framework of the PASCOM collaborative project between the University of Luxembourg and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. She focuses on the pivotal concept of pre-reflectivity and her theory in development is the conductive thread of a planned trilogy, with a first book “From intellectualism to Ethics” (Ousia, 2014). Smadar Bustan has also translated into Hebrew and prefaced philosophical books by Levinas, Marion and Blanchot. Among the awards she has received, Dr. Smadar Bustan was a Sachs Fellow (Harvard University) and won an ESF Exploratory Workshop grant. Since 2011, she is an associate member at the Philosophy and Sociology Department (SND, Sciences, Norms & Decisions) at the Sorbonne University.

SND (Science Norms and Decisions) Research Unit, Philosophy Department: Dr. Bustan

Publications: Click here to view Dr. Bustan’s publications

Workshop 2009: Link to the video

Book Project: Can the understanding of Pain & Suffering end Suffering?

{Co-writing with Hin Hung Sik and Prof. Sumio Hoka}

Photo by: Mireille Montmasson


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 collaboration with Hilary Putnam. In 2011, she joined the Psychophysiology and Neurophysiology Laboratory at Luxembourg University, working with Prof. Fernand Anton. Her project on pain and suffering is a long-term research plan, underlying her philosophical thesis on pre-reflectivity. Specifically, her theory on Pain and Suffering, currently tested in the context of the bilateral PASCOM project (FNR-DFG) intends to present a new framework of thought in proposing a diagrammatical reasoning which combines the sufferer’s inner world with his social world. This scientifically validated phenomenological mode of thinking will provide the different disciplines with a global way for explaining pain and suffering variations. In the long run, she hopes this could serve hospitals and clinics.

Photo by: Mireille Montmasson

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 the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim (Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy), and at Neustart Klagenfurt (probation service). Since 2012, he is a PhD student at the Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Herta Flor, at the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim and a proud member of the DFG-FNR research project „PASCOM“. In addition to pursuing his training in cognitive behavioral therapy at the University of Heidelberg, he does an internship at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim on affective and anxiety disorders. In addition to pain research, he is interested in cognitive psychology, abnormal psychology and psychotherapy.