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Abstract

The title of the paper harks back to Schopenhauerian ‘der Positivitȁt des Schmerzens’, a formulation which, stripped of its broader philosophical context, reads to most of us paradoxical if not overtly contradictory. The folk (non-medical) perception of pain may be evaluatively negative, but there are also pain conceptualizations which reveal that humans infrequently think about this phenomenon along more positive lines. Thus, being predominantly construed as an ‘evil-doer’, pain does not preclude more positive construals, both in medical and non-medical fi elds. ‘Positivity of pain’, then, is often explored within literary, anthropological, psychological, theological, social, therapeutic and utilitarian realms, and, as Sussex puts it, “in its interdisciplinary span, pain language is a prototypical example of a problem of applied linguistics” (2009: 4). With this in mind, I take a closer look at some verbal as well as verbo-pictorial manifestations of pain. The focus of the present study is specifi cally on the overarching metaphor +PAIN as ‘GOOD-DOER’+ (naturally contrasted with the previously hinted +PAIN as ‘EVIL-DOER’+), further broken into more specifi c sub-metaphors. An attempt at capturing and describing some of these apparently counter-intuitive pain metaphorizations reveals their ‘positive potential’, a potential of tools with which to obtain control over pain and, in many cases, re-forge it into something ‘better’, something evaluatively positive.
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