An Interdisciplinary Symposium

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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

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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 and phantom limb pain). Specifically, she is interested in how pain can be modulated by emotional and cognitive factors and how our understanding of these factors can increase the effectiveness of psychological therapies for chronic pain