"Keith Wailoo describes his new book on Pain as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's What's Next Health Series"

C-span book tv. March 2015. 

Professor Keith Wailoo talks about the politicization of treating pain in the U.S. since the 1950s.

KCUR radio, Kansas City, MO.  interview Exploring the Politics of Pain. april 2015

For decades, politicians have battled over how to regard people who suffer chronic pain.  Are we a compassionate nation or are we enabling people to take advantage of the system?

"I wasn't sure what a palliative care doctor was doing reading about the political history of pain, but I soon found it hard to put down... Anyone who works in palliative care and has a broader interested in the political and legal aspects of pain management and physician-assisted suicide will enjoy this book." — Roger Woodruff - International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care

Majority Report with Sam Seder.  April 2015 radio interview.

Pain theory in politics and how it plays out in criminal justice and policy. Also how pain can explain the liberal and conservative divide.

"Will surely bring to mind the aphorism of Santayana, that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. But it does so much more: If we want to understand the origins of terms such as 'welfare queen' and 'entitlements for the undeserving' and 'givers versus takers,' we need look no further that Pain: A Political History." -- Troy Duster, The Chronicle of Higher Education - Review

A deeply felt and provocative history of the political uses to which pain has been put in modern America. -- Warwick Anderson, Science

"In this remarkable book, Keith Wailoo explores the long American struggle over pain. Liberals feel your pain. Conservatives fear entitlement and welfare. Wailoo traces the conflict from the battlefields of World War II to the rise of deregulation, from fetal pain to OxyContin. Beautifully written, broad ranging, deep, wise, unexpected, and endlessly fascinating." James A. Morone, Brown University

"Wailoo's ambitious volume tells post-World War Two American political history through the story of pain: its cultural meanings, economic costs, and bureaucratic management and its political uses and abuses. No other work I know of sustains such a macro-analysis while attending to pain's medical, moral, and media significances. And reading it hurts not--and for policy makers might even be therapeutic! Bravo!" Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University

"At once capacious and focused, Pain expands on the cultural histories of this compelling topic by admirably developing the political construction of the elusive and yet ever so material experience of pain. The politics of pain, disability, medicine, and suicide emerge as Wailoo’s book ranges across the rhetoric of a “bleeding heart” liberal to the conservative uses of rugged individualism in relation to the pharmaceutical industry."  - Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Emory University

"Physicians and social scientists are aware that individual pain is complex and elusive—an aggregate of physiology, cultural context, and idiosyncrasy. Wailoo has added a significant analytic dimension to this understanding of pain by incorporating the domains of ideology and politics as they are reflected in policy. A highly original and persuasively argued contribution by one of America's most prominent historians of medicine and society. Pain will attract a wide and thoughtful readership." - Charles E. Rosenberg, Harvard University

In this history of American political culture, Keith Wailoo examines why and how pain and compassionate relief has been a battleground for defining the line between society's liberal trends and conservative tendencies.

Tracing the development of pain theories in politics, medicine, law, and society, and battles over the morality and economics of relief, Wailoo points to a tension at the heart of the conservative-liberal divide.

Beginning with the post–World War II emergence of a pain relief economy in response to concerns about recovering soldiers, Wailoo explores the 1960s rise of an expansive liberal pain standard, along with the emerging conviction that subjective pain was real, disabling, and compensable.

These concepts were attacked during the Reagan era of the 1980s, when a conservative political backlash led to decreasing disability aid and the growing role of the courts as arbiters in the liberal-conservative struggle to define pain.


Introduction. Between Liberal Relief and Conservative Care

1. The Trojan Horse of Pain

2. Opening the Gates of Relief

3. The Conservative Case against Learned Helplessness

4. Divided States of Analgesia

5. OxyContin Unleashed

Conclusion. Theaters of Compassion