About Suffering in the World (homepage) / Algoscience


This document offers a few notes to begin a systematic study of terms and expressions used to deal with the topic of suffering.

New words are required to refer to new things. It is proposed to use the ancient Greek word algos, which means suffering, as a convenient root for forming neologisms, alleviating language repetition, and facilitating technical semantics.

The word algosphere is proposed to name the sphere of activity that has to do with suffering, as described on that page, and the expression algospheric approach identifies a way specifically designed to deal with suffering itself, suffering first, and suffering as a whole.

The word algoscience is proposed to name the discipline that deals with suffering, as described on that page.

The word algonomy has also been proposed. It was used in older texts, but is now relinquished because it had different meanings depending on the context: it could refer to the discipline or the sphere of activity or the approach that are suggested about suffering, which are now more clearly referred to as algoscience, the algosphere, and the algospheric approach.

The word suffering is itself highly problematic, because its definition remains an elusive matter. For a start, let us simply talk about suffering as the phenomenon of unpleasant feeling. The Wikipedia article on suffering has a section about words that are often used ambiguously when dealing with this topic. Here is an excerpt, as of 2022-02-02:

The word suffering is sometimes used in the narrow sense of physical pain, but more often it refers to mental or emotional pain, or more often yet to pain in the broad sense, i.e. to any unpleasant feeling, emotion or sensation. The word pain usually refers to physical pain, but it is also a common synonym of suffering. The words pain and suffering are often used both together in different ways. For instance, they may be used as interchangeable synonyms. Or they may be used in 'contradistinction' to one another, as in "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional", or "pain is physical, suffering is mental". Or they may be used to define each other, as in "pain is physical suffering", or "suffering is severe physical or mental pain".

Qualifiers, such as mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual, are often used for referring to certain types of pain or suffering. In particular, mental pain (or suffering) may be used in relationship with physical pain (or suffering) for distinguishing between two wide categories of pain or suffering. A first caveat concerning such a distinction is that it uses physical pain in a sense that normally includes not only the 'typical sensory experience of physical pain' but also other unpleasant bodily experiences including air hunger, hunger, vestibular suffering, nausea, sleep deprivation, and itching. A second caveat is that the terms physical or mental should not be taken too literally: physical pain or suffering, as a matter of fact, happens through conscious minds and involves emotional aspects, while mental pain or suffering happens through physical brains and, being an emotion, involves important physiological aspects.

The word unpleasantness, which some people use as a synonym of suffering or pain in the broad sense, may refer to the basic affective dimension of pain (its suffering aspect), usually in contrast with the sensory dimension, as for instance in this sentence: “Pain-unpleasantness is often, though not always, closely linked to both the intensity and unique qualities of the painful sensation.” Other current words that have a definition with some similarity to suffering include distress, unhappiness, misery, affliction, woe, ill, discomfort, displeasure, disagreeableness.

List of Terms

Abolition of suffering






Algodicy (justification of suffering, metaphysics of suffering. cf. "theodicy")

This word appeared in the 1970s to refer to the science of pain, but it has not caught on among pain specialists. They prefer to speak of "pain science" or "pain research and management".


Algonomy (or algonomics, cf. algology, agrology-agronomy, economics-economy-political economy)

Algos (Wikipedia article on the Greek deity)


Algostat (a word formed on the model of 'thermostat' and proposed here for referring to a means that would limit the experience of suffering in such a way that it never attains the level of "excessive" suffering -- perhaps a neuro-device, or a psycho-spiritual attitude, or a genetic tweaking, etc.)


Alliesthésie (English: alliesthesia) (Variations des sensations subjectives d'un individu, concernant une stimulation de nature agréable ou désagréable, à la suite d'une stimulation externe. Le terme est introduit par Cabanac (1968) pour expliquer que la façon dont on va percevoir le caractère hédonique d'un stimulus dépend de l'état interne de l'organisme. On distingue l'alliesthésie négative, qui désigne une variation vers plus de déplaisir ou moins de plaisir, et positive, à l'inverse.)



Antalgonomy, antalgology

Atro- (cruel, terrible)


Case of suffering

Cause of suffering

Control of suffering

Countercause of suffering





Eradication of suffering

Fight against suffering







Infliction of suffering

Management of Suffering

Mastery over suffering



Negative utilitarianism


Panetics (or anthropo-algogenic algonomy, cf. algogénèse anthropique or human-caused suffering)

Person or organization who contributes or goes against the production of suffering

Prevention of suffering


Relief of suffering



Studies on suffering






Here is a list of alternative names that is given for the problem of unpleasantness (PA7107) in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (note the puzzling absence of the word suffering in this list!):

Abhorrence, Abomination, Affliction, Aggravation, Anguish, Annoyance, Antagonism, Antipathy, Anxiety, Atrocity, Aversion, Awfulness, Awkwardness, Banefulness, Baseness, Beastliness, Bedevilment, Bitterness, Boredom, Boringness, Bothersomeness, Burdensomeness, Chagrin, Cheerlessness, Confusion, Contrariety, Depression, Desolation, Despair, Despicableness, Difficulty, Disaffection, Disaffinity, Disagreeableness, Disapproval, Discomfort, Discomposure, Disconcertion, Discontentment, Disfavour, Disgust, Dislike, Dismay, Displeasure, Disquiet, Dissatisfaction, Distaste, Distress, Disturbance, Dolorousness, Dullness, Embarrassment, Encumbrance, Enmity, Ennui, Exasperation, Foulness, Fulsomeness, Grief, Grievance, Grimness, Grossness, Harassment, Harshness, Hatred, Hideousness, Horribleness, Hostility, Humiliation, Ignobility, Infelicity, Injury, Inquietude, Irksomeness, Joylessness, Loathsomeness, Lovelessness, Malaise, Melancholy, Miasma, Misery, Mortification, Mournfulness, Noisome, Nuisance, Oppression, Pain, Pestiferousness, Pleasurelessness, Problem, Provocation, Repugnance, Repulsion, Sadism, Sadness, Shock, Sorrow, Sufferance, Tedium, Tiresomeness, Torment, Torture, Tortuousness, Tribulation, Trouble, Ugliness, Unbearableness, Uncomfortableness, Undesirableness, Uneasiness, Unhappiness, Unpleasantness, Vexation, Vileness, Wearisomeness, Woe, Worry, Wound.

Key terms that were used in some meta tags of internet documents

suffering, pain, science, discipline, algonomics, algology, panetics, algonomy, study, research, action, algo, algia, sufferer, problem, need, aversion, painful, affliction, distress, hurt, unhappiness, misery, sorrow, sadness, hopelessness, ill, poverty, famine, disease, illness, death, suicide, addiction, hunger, refugees, disaster, victims, underdevelopment, third-world, war, crime, evil, cruelty, infliction, solution, control, management, treatment, relief, prevention, abolition, fight, human, animal, rights, charity, humanitarian, humane, philanthropy, security, insurance, welfare, health, happiness, strategy, association, alliance, organization, network, global, world problems, affect, cause

Religious ethics, religious power, business ethics, management ethics, environmental ethics, legal ethics, medical ethics, media ethics, legal ethics, police ethics, Human Rights, Human Suffering, Humanitarian Intervention, genocide, ethnic, cleansing, military intervention, Pain, pain measurement, medical specialization, health cost management, public health, Police, criminal justice, community policing, riots, law enforcement, War, Peace Studies, Technology assessment, environmental assessment, impact assessment, systems analysis, measuring pain, utilitarianism, science policy

The International Association for the Study of Pain offers on the Internet its "IASP Pain Terminology".

Ralph Siu lists thousands of words related to suffering in his book "Seeds of Reflection - Word Clusters for Meditation on the Infliction and the Relief of Suffering", third volume of the Panetics Trilogy, published by the International Society for Panetics (ISP), Washington, D.C., 1993. The thirteen chapters of this terminologic work deal with themes such as suffering, infliction, inflicters, inflictees, relief, alleviators, etc.

Last modification: 2022/02/02