What is a WUP?

You know that I believe strongly in the whole person approach to overcoming pain. But there’s another element that is important to acknowledge and incorporate into our thinking. That is the uniqueness of each person.

W ~ whole

U ~ unique

P ~ person


What does this mean practically?

When we think about what the person needs to get better, it is exactly that, what they need. This will be communicated in different ways and our job is to gain a grip on this vision or picture of what it is the person wants. It is the person as much as the condition, should be our guide. This is because each condition manifests in a particular way, emergent in that particular individual.

The individual has his or her story. Nothing happens in isolation as we are on a continuous timeline. No-one knows how we create this sense of a continuum as a ‘self’ or ‘me’, yet that is how it transpires. We continually learn and update as our brains sculpt themselves to try and explain the possible causes of the sensory information it receives. Of course our brains have no access to the world or our bodies. There is just the flow of electrochemical signals to make sense of, or guess the meaning of, in the light of prior experience.

“It has taken my whole life to get to this point”

Everything that happens now is upon what has come before. This story of my life is special and unique to me. The person arriving with a pain problem to be solved has taken their whole life to get there, in a sense. Certainly there is a uniqueness to them and their narrative, which holds a great deal of the information we need to gain insight into their suffering. Given the space and time, most will tell you all that you need to know when you gently guide the conversation.

There are no separate parts to the person, only a whole. Reductionist thinking is rather convenient, but does not represent the reality. It is not my mouth that is thirsty, instead it is me. It is not my foot that is pain, it is me. The experience is embodied as is my thinking about it for where else could this happen. You cannot separate out the thinking, perceiving, acting dimensions of the lived experience. Much like the impossibility of separating the blueness or skyness of a blue sky.

Whilst this can appear to be more complex than a model that suggests where we feel something is all there is (the biomedical model), the whole person approach offers far more opportunity. On a simple level this is because whole person-ness affords us the possibility to capture the reality of the lived experience. Realising this, the uniqueness slips in quietly as an obvious yet understated factor.

And there we have it, in a shortened version. WUP. The whole unique person approach to pain, or anything in life.

Richmond Stace

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