‘If it can’t be coded, it doesn’t exist’. A historical-philosophical analysis of the new ICD-11 classification of chronic pain

AHP readers may be interested in a new article in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science: “‘If it can’t be coded, it doesn’t exist’. A historical-philosophical analysis of the new ICD-11 classification of chronic pain,” Rikvan der Linden, Timo Bolt, Mario Veen. Abstract:

Chronic pain entails a large burden of disease and high social costs, but is seldom ‘in the picture’ and barely understood. Until recently, it was not systematically classified but instead viewed as a symptom or sign. In the new International Classification of Diseases, (ICD)-11, to be implemented in 2022, ‘chronic’ pain is now classified as a separate disease category and, to a certain extent, approached as a ‘disease in its own right’. Reasons that have been given for this are not based so much on new scientific insights, but are rather of pragmatic nature. To explore the background of these recent changes in definition and classification of chronic pain, this paper provides a historical-philosophical analysis. By sketching a brief history of how pain experts have been working on the definition and taxonomy since the 1970s, we demonstrate the various social and practical functions that underlie the new ICD-11 classification of chronic pain. Building on this historical-empirical basis, we discuss philosophical issues regarding defining and classifying chronic pain, in particular performativity and pragmatism, and discuss their implications for the broader philosophical debate on health and disease.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.

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