The Pain Scale By Eula Biss

1348 Words6 Pages
What is the point in measuring something that is unique to every individual? In “The Pain Scale,” the author, Eula Biss, attempts to convey her pain to the reader. She tells the reader how she has tried to describe and measure her pain. There is a system set up for doing so, but it leaves much up to individual interpretation. The arbitrary process by which we are supposed to evaluate the level of pain we are experiencing doesn’t seem to accomplish much. Throughout the essay, Biss uses unique ways of comparing the suggested levels of pain to other “scales.” This raises the question, why can the scale, itself, doesn’t do adequate job of helping people understand pain. The Beaufort scale was developed by in 1805 by Sir Francis…show more content…
In the century spanning Defoe and Beaufort’s scales, many others adapted and added measures that helped establish Beaufort’s definitive measure of winds. Temperature scales are also used in an attempt to make the concept of measuring pain more relatable. Across the world, temperature is measured in degrees Celsius. At zero, water freezes and, at one hundred, water boils. Despite Celsius being the global standard, the Fahrenheit scale was developed decades earlier. Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit based his temperature scale on two marks: on the lower end, the point where a mixture of salt and water would cease to exist as a liquid, and, on the upper end, a measure of normal body temperature. In an effort to add more confusion to the two standards, Lord Kelvin introduced the idea of an “absolute zero.” Absolute zero is the point where molecules and atoms are supposed to be essentially motionless. Despite this, research has showed that the motion doesn’t really stop. As Biss says, “…absolute is not absolute.” She finds that comforting, but not quite enough. Throughout Biss’ essay, she also attempts to equate the pain scale to something that seems much more insidious. To many, the thought of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy brings about a reminder of the pain many suffered having to analyze the text in high school. Biss sees an

More about The Pain Scale By Eula Biss

Open Document