What pain asymbolia really shows

Colin Klein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Pain asymbolics feel pain, but act as if they are indifferent to it. Nikola Grahek argues that such patients present a clear counterexample to motivationalism about pain. I argue that Grahek has mischaracterized pain asymbolia. Properly understood, asymbolics have lost a general capacity to care about their bodily integrity. Asymbolics' indifference to pain thus does not show something about the intrinsic nature of pain; it shows something about the relationship between pains and subjects, and how that relationship might break down. I explore the consequences of such a view for both motivationalism and the categorization of pain asymbolia as a syndrome, arguing for a close link between asymbolia and various forms of depersonalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-516
Number of pages24
Issue number494
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


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