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The Importance of Words: Suggesting Comfort Rather Than Pain

Minden, Pamela PhD, APRN,BC


Human beings shape their words; however, human beings are also shaped by their words. Although the nursing profession has paid significant attention to recognition and treatment of pain, this article illustrates how a nurse's preoccupation with pain or even the exaggerated use of the word itself can, paradoxically, evoke or aggravate the phenomenon of pain. Several vignettes, including the author's personal story, provide anecdotal evidence.

Edgewood College, Madison, Wis.

Corresponding author: Pamela Minden, PhD, APRN,BC, Edgewood College, Madison, WI 53711 (e-mail:

The author gives special thanks to those granting permission to share their stories. Fictitious names were used for anonymity.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.