Article

Are There Painful Images? Ernst Jünger and Beholding Pain in Photography

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Our ability to have an experience of another's pain is characteristic of empathy. Using functional imaging, we assessed brain activity while volunteers experienced a painful stimulus and compared it to that elicited when they observed a signal indicating that their loved one—present in the same room—was receiving a similar pain stimulus. Bilateral anterior insula (AI), rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), brainstem, and cerebellum were activated when subjects received pain and also by a signal that a loved one experienced pain. AIand ACC activation correlated with individual empathy scores. Activity in the posterior insula/secondary somatosensory cortex, the sensorimotor cortex (SI/MI), and the caudal ACC was specific to receiving pain. Thus, a neural response in AIand rostral ACC, activated in common for “self” and “other” conditions, suggests that the neural substrate for empathic experience does not involve the entire “pain matrix.” We conclude that only that part of the pain network associated with its affective qualities, but not its sensory qualities, mediates empathy.
Article
Full-text available
Results obtained with functional magnetic resonance imaging show that both feeling a moderately painful pinprick stimulus to the fingertips and witnessing another person's hand undergo similar stimulation are associated with common activity in a pain-related area in the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Common activity in response to noxious tactile and visual stimulation was restricted to the right inferior Brodmann's area 24b. These results suggest a shared neural substrate for felt and seen pain for aversive ecological events happening to strangers and in the absence of overt symbolic cues. In contrast to ACC 24b, the primary somatosensory cortex showed significant activations in response to both noxious and innocuous tactile, but not visual, stimuli. The different response patterns in the two areas are consistent with the ACC's role in coding the motivational-affective dimension of pain, which is associated with the preparation of behavioral responses to aversive events.
Article
Full-text available
To what extent do we share feelings with others? Neuroimaging investigations of the neural mechanisms involved in the perception of pain in others may cast light on one basic component of human empathy, the interpersonal sharing of affect. In this fMRI study, participants were shown a series of still photographs of hands and feet in situations that are likely to cause pain, and a matched set of control photographs without any painful events. They were asked to assess on-line the level of pain experienced by the person in the photographs. The results demonstrated that perceiving and assessing painful situations in others was associated with significant bilateral changes in activity in several regions notably, the anterior cingulate, the anterior insula, the cerebellum, and to a lesser extent the thalamus. These regions are known to play a significant role in pain processing. Finally, the activity in the anterior cingulate was strongly correlated with the participants' ratings of the others' pain, suggesting that the activity of this brain region is modulated according to subjects' reactivity to the pain of others. Our findings suggest that there is a partial cerebral commonality between perceiving pain in another individual and experiencing it oneself. This study adds to our understanding of the neurological mechanisms implicated in intersubjectivity and human empathy.
Article
Full-text available
Recent neuroscientific evidence suggests that empathy for pain activates similar neural representations as the first-hand experience of pain. However, empathy is not an all-or-none phenomenon but it is strongly malleable by interpersonal, intrapersonal and situational factors. This study investigated how two different top-down mechanisms - attention and cognitive appraisal - affect the perception of pain in others and its neural underpinnings. We performed one behavioral (N = 23) and two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments (N = 18). In the first fMRI experiment, participants watched photographs displaying painful needle injections, and were asked to evaluate either the sensory or the affective consequences of these injections. The role of cognitive appraisal was examined in a second fMRI experiment in which participants watched injections that only appeared to be painful as they were performed on an anesthetized hand. Perceiving pain in others activated the affective-motivational and sensory-discriminative aspects of the pain matrix. Activity in the somatosensory areas was specifically enhanced when participants evaluated the sensory consequences of pain. Perceiving non-painful injections into the anesthetized hand also led to signal increase in large parts of the pain matrix, suggesting an automatic affective response to the putatively harmful stimulus. This automatic response was modulated by areas involved in self/other distinction and valence attribution - including the temporo-parietal junction and medial orbitofrontal cortex. Our findings elucidate how top-down control mechanisms and automatic bottom-up processes interact to generate and modulate other-oriented responses. They stress the role of cognitive processing in empathy, and shed light on how emotional and bodily awareness enable us to evaluate the sensory and affective states of others.
Article
The idea of a disjunctive theory of visual experiences first found expression in J. M. Hinton's pioneering 1973 book Experiences. The first monograph in this exciting area since then, this book develops a comprehensive disjunctive theory, incorporating detailed accounts of the three core kinds of visual experience-perception, hallucination, and illusion-and an explanation of how perception and hallucination could be indiscriminable from one another without having anything in common. In the veridical case, it contends that the perception of a particular state of affairs involves the subject's being acquainted with that state of affairs, and that it is the subject's standing in this acquaintance relation that makes the experience possess a phenomenal character. It argues that when we hallucinate, we are having an experience that, while lacking phenomenal character, is mistakenly supposed by the subject to possess it and shows how this approach is compatible with empirical research into the workings of the brain. It concludes by offering a novel treatment of the many different types of illusion that we can be subject to, which accounts for many illusions, not as special cases of either veridical perception or hallucination but rather as mixed cases that involve elements of both.
Article
Narratives enable readers to vividly experience fictional and non-fictional contexts. Writers use a variety of language features to control these experiences: They direct readers in how to construct contexts, how to draw inferences and how to identify the key parts of a story. Writers can skilfully convey physical sensations, prompt emotional states, effect moral responses and even alter the readers' attitudes. Mind, Brain and Narrative examines the psychological and neuroscientific evidence for the mechanisms which underlie narrative comprehension. The authors explore the scientific developments which demonstrate the importance of attention, counterfactuals, depth of processing, perspective and embodiment in these processes. in so doing, this timely, interdisciplinary work provides an integrated account of the research which links psychological mechanisms of language comprehension to humanities work on narrative and style.
Article
Considers both pacifist and patriotic images of the First World War in Germany following the ten-year anniversary in 1924
Article
The Weimar years were characterized by an immense rise in photographic publications, accompanied by a discourse that ascribed authenticity and reliability to the medium and saw it as superior to language. The article analyzes photographic books by August Sander, Ernst Jünger, and Kurt Tucholsky focusing on the communication strategies in which photographic images were embedded. It shows that the photographic series, its combination with text, and its reliance on physiognomic knowledge created an arrangement in which the visible details of individual images were displaced or functionalized in favour of a pre-existing ideological knowledge which images were merely capable of illustrating.
Article
The Weimar period in Germany produced speculative forms of political discourse that need to be read in their full radicalism rather than as alternatives to the forms of government to which we, living in a different history, restrict the meaning of politics. Walter Benjamin provides a model for this expansion of our ideas—there is no parliamentary version of the revolutionary work he imagines. Even though Benjamin himself wrote in exceedingly hostile terms about Ernst Jünger, unexpected similarities in their writing, and in their common opposition to bourgeois stasis in human development, may help to sharpen our understanding of both.
Article
History & Memory 12.1 (2000) 135-150 Few photographs have become as well known as those taken by British and American army photographers during the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in what was then the German Reich in 1945. Wagons full of corpses in Dachau; half-dead and sick survivors in the small camp at Buchenwald; hundreds of dead bodies lined up in front of the ruined buildings at Nordhausen; open mass graves at Bergen-Belsen. The American writer Susan Sontag remembered her first encounter with this photographic inventory of ultimate horror as "negative epiphany," "the prototypically modern revelation." Ever since then it seemed plausible to her to divide her life into two parts: into the time before she saw those photographs at the age of twelve and the time after. Since they were taken and first published, these pictures have been reprinted countless times, and one receives the impression that the same photographs have been reproduced over and over again (although the archives contain numerous frames that are very little known to this day). The photographs of the liberation have long become part of the Western countries' collective visual memory. They mostly impress themselves on our sentiments and conjure up a threatening, mute and nameless sense of "once upon a time." Then as now they set off strong emotional reactions, of shock and terror, of compassion as well as rejection. Usually the pictures are accepted as straightforward and unambiguous reality, not as a specific photographic rendering of that reality open to analysis. More than other photographs they make a moral claim to be accepted without questioning. They stand for the inhumanity of National Socialism, for an "image," an idea of the system of concentration and extermination camps. They also stand for Auschwitz -- as the most extreme expression as well as the central element of National Socialist ideology and extermination practice: the mass murder of the European Jews organized by the state and carried out with bureaucratic efficiency on the basis of a social division of labor. Relics of the camps -- barbed wire, entrance gate, watch towers, barracks, the crematories' chimneys -- and photographed scenes not only became new symbols for something hitherto unknown and unimaginable; they also structure our view of contemporary atrocities. "The scenes portrayed," writes historian Robert Abzug, Pictures from prison camps in former Yugoslavia showing emaciated men behind barbed wire strikingly resemble the images from 1945. During the civil war in Rwanda, Gilles Peress photographed bulldozers scooping piles of corpses into mass graves like those at Bergen-Belsen. The photographs of Nazi concentration camps have become icons. Nowadays the term is frequently used for these and other popular pictures without there being a clear idea of what makes them icons. In this article I link the term to its historical framework of use and refer to the religious cult images of Orthodox Christianity. I am interested in identifying the precise analogies -- or lack of such analogies -- between the well-known concentration camp photographs and icons. My intention, however, is not to elevate my subject to a religious plane. Religiously inspired terms such as cult, ritual, symbol or icon are currently en vogue in the field of cultural studies, and I do not want to join this trend without reservations either. For me, the term icon is a key to illustrating the complexities involved in dealing with concentration camp photographs. These photographs are not icons, but they are regarded as such. The context of my reflections is provided by the question how these photographs have been published and received in Germany, the successor state to the Nazi regime, since the time when they were taken. In the United...
Article
Observing someone else in pain produces a shared emotional experience that predominantly activates brain areas processing the emotional component of pain. Occasionally, however, sensory areas are also activated and there are anecdotal reports of people sharing both the somatic and emotional components of someone else's pain. Here we presented a series of images or short clips depicting noxious events to a large group of normal controls. Approximately one-third of this sample reported an actual noxious somatic experience in response to one or more of the images or clips. Ten of these pain responders were subsequently recruited and matched with 10 non-responders to take part in an fMRI study. The subjects were scanned while observing static images of noxious events. In contrast with emotional images not containing noxious events the responders activated emotional and sensory brain regions associated with pain while the non-responders activated very little. These findings provide convincing evidence that some people can readily experience both the emotional and sensory components of pain during observation of other's pain resulting in a shared physical pain experience.
Article
Although feeling pain and touch has long been considered inherently private, recent neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies hint at the social implications of this experience. Here we used somatosensory-evoked potentials (SEPs) to investigate whether mere observation of painful and tactile stimuli delivered to a model would modulate neural activity in the somatic system of an onlooker. Viewing video clips showing pain and tactile stimuli delivered to others, respectively, increased and decreased the amplitude of the P45 SEP component that reflects the activity of the primary somatosensory cortex (S1). These modulations correlated with the intensity but not with the unpleasantness of the pain and touch ascribed to the model or the aversion induced in the onlooker by the video clips. Thus, modulation of S1 activity contingent upon observation of others' pain and touch may reflect the mapping of sensory qualities of observed painful and tactile stimuli. Results indicate that the S1 is not only involved in the actual perception of pain and touch but also plays an important role in extracting somatic features from social interactions.
  • Brink Cornelia
  • Linfield Susie
  • Sliwinski Sharon