Against Pain [PDF]

Against Pain as a Tool in Professional Work on People with Severe Disabilities

John O’Brien


Those with professional power over people with severe disabili- ties face an ethical question: is it good to use pain as a tool in their work?

My answer is no. Pain as a tool increases the power professionals have over vulnerable people while it decreases the chances of a positive human relationship between those who choose pain and those who are hurt. People who wish to build positive relationships and less violent social settings will follow two simple rules: if in doubt, do not cause pain; and, act positively to create conditions that decrease the occurrence of pain. Right living lies in the long term struggle to apply these two rules in the creation of fitting responses to the difficult situations arising from engagement with people with severe disabilities who injure themselves or others.