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Cicely Saunders and the Legacy of ‘Total Pain’

Cicely Saunders and the Legacy of ‘Total Pain’

Funded by:  AHRC

Main contact:  Mr Joe Wood

Start date:  2017

End date:  2020



This project examines the conceptual background to the idea of 'total pain' used by the hospice pioneer Cicely Saunders.

Using Saunders’ own published papers and private notes and correspondence alongside the literary, philosophical and theological texts which informed her work, the project is investigating the theoretical heritage of a term that is often described as a touchstone concept in palliative and end-of-life care but is rarely the focus of research.

Using perspectives from medical humanities, narrative medicine and philosophies of care, it hopes to assess how far 'total pain' can be understood as a narrative concept and its relation to issues of holism, non-verbal communication, and silence.

The research is supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Studentship through the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities.