Pain as Yardstick: Jean Améry


  • Ilit Ferber Tel Aviv University



Améry, pain, trauma, Scarry, sympathy, solitude


One of the best known and most widely accepted premises regarding the experience of pain and suffering is its singular, private nature. Pain’s violence isolates us from everything else, embedding us completely within our own suffering so that there is nothing else but pain: no world or objects, no relationship with other people, no past or anticipation of the future. An utter withdrawal. But pain’s isolating force is dual: it affects not only those who suffer, but also those who are not in pain. Thus, it is precisely in pain – the exemplary state in which we need others with us to offer their help and sympathy – that we find ourselves in solitude; and it is precisely in the state of pain that we leave others to suffer alone.