This project investigates subjective views of physiological functioning, the role they play in defining attitudes towards health and disease, as well as the treatment of chronic pain. By comparing the basic assumptions of Plato's mind-body dualism, and Aristotle's monist view with modern views of biological functioning, the culturally defined nature of the medical field is examined. Each of these three views reflects a strong influence of the culture they were founded in, and have specific implications for pain treatment. Additionally, an empirical research study was conducted in order to examine how modern approaches to physiology can affect pain treatment. This study investigated the effect of progressive relaxation and cognitive coping on pain perception and smoking urge in a group of college undergraduates who were habitual smokers. Progressive relaxation and cognitive coping principles were applied to an acute pain model, using the cold-pressor test, in order to observe its influence on pain perception, smoking urge, and smoking behavior. Ultimately, a more Aristotelian view of chronic pain treatment is advocated, for progressive relaxation was found to reduce the perception of pain, and significantly reduce smoking urge, while both were dramatically increased in a control group. Movement away from a symptom based treatment plan that heavily relies on the use of pharmacological agents, towards a more holistic view of health, as advocated by Aristotle, could both effectively manage pain, as well as reduce addictive behaviors commonly displayed by chronic pain patients.


Florence, Monica

Second Advisor

Thompson, Claudia


Classical Studies; Psychology


Ancient Philosophy


substance use, addiction, progressive relaxation, cognitive coping, pain, chronic pain

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2013 Grace Hamilton