Ein visuelles Kommunikations-Instrument zur Beschreibung von Schmerz.

[Dolorography – a visual communication instrument for the description of pain]

Sabine Affolter, Katja Rüfenacht
In cooperation with
Inselspital Bern,
Hochschule der Künste Bern [Berne Art College]

'Dolorography' was first developed as a BA thesis and subsequently continued as an MA thesis at Berne College of the Arts. It is a visual instrument which supports and facilitates speaking about the different elements of pain. It consists of a series of abstract images which deliberately avoid unambiguous semantic identification and so encourage the person who sees them to supplement them with spoken descriptions. The strength of these images which have been specially developed by the designers lies in their lack of definition. In this way they serve as a projection screen onto which patients can project their associations. Practical tests at the Berne Island Hospital have been successful in demonstrating the therapeutic usefulness of the system. It can be seen as a diagnostic option which goes beyond conventional anamnesis.

Comments by the jury:

Using the resources of visual communication, a completely novel kind of tool for the diagnosis and therapy of pain has been created. The specially developed images make an abstract statement, but still function as an altogether useful vehicle for patients suffering from pain, making it possible for them to convey what they are going through. The way in which the method was developed and tried out in cooperation with doctors is admirable. The idea of 'pain pictures' is a surprising one. In our day above all, where the treatment of pain is a matter of ever-increasing medical importance, there can be no doubt at all of its relevance. It would be highly desirable if this project could be further developed and elaborated.

Comments by the Nominators:
The images created under the auspices of this project translate the sensation of pain into visual stimuli, and so make the phenomenon perceptible for persons who are not directly affected. But first and foremost the pictures encourage dialogue about pain between patients and doctors.
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