Open Access

Pain, suffering and some ethical issues in neuroscience research

  • Matilde Leonardi1,
  • Elena Colombetti2,
  • Alessio Musio2,
  • Stefania Radaelli2 and
  • Adriano Pessina2Email author
The Journal of Headache and PainOfficial Journal of the Italian Society for the Study of Headaches5:88


The distinction between suffering and pain express the two faces of a disease that influence a patient quality of life. Suffering is a composite phenomenon. It implies moral elements, such as the question that a human being can ask about the sense of life, the worries about himself and his own family; existential issues and ethical components. Suffering can rise not only when pain is not present, but also, sometimes, just when pain is won. We have to avoid to think of the patient’s suffering always as a psychiatric pathology. This is a new and more adapted approach to suffering itself. Pain therapies should respect patient’s personalities and requires a proportional use of the therapy itself. Quality of life, pharmacological pain treatment, informed consent, living will: we have to consider all those issues deeply, starting from the perspective of the pain-suffering distinction.

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