TO DOCTOR: "Doctor, my right arm hurts real
bad whenever I twist it back like this."
DOCTOR TO PATIENT: "Then don't do
that may be a difficult statement to refute, that is the
entire purpose of this article. Countless books have been
written about pain. Pain stands out throughout the history
of human civilization as our single most difficult concept
to handle. Although it affects everyone of us, effectively
dealing with it continues to elude us both as a personal
subjective experience and as the more elusive objective
experience of someone else's discomfort.
have learned to hate it, to fear it and to be angry at
it. We have come to understand that its presence can and
will change the course of our lives. It can easily become
the central focus of our personal existence.
in countless cases pain, both physical and emotional,
has been the final factor for ending life.
Historically, tricks and potions for controlling pain
have dominated our pharmacology with the single objective
of making pain go away, analgesia.
for all our complaining and despite its ubiquitous nature
those who would help us are forced to take it on faith
that we are really in pain. Of all the symptoms to be
faked or imagined pain is the dominant one by far. It
demands the most attention, and paradoxically, it is most
is the ultimate subjective experience.
can share feelings of love and fear, hate and joy, happiness
and sorrow. But physical pain is an absolutely solitary
are alone and isolated with the pain experience as with
worse yet the experience of pain drives us further into
can describe what we feel in explicit terms, but even
our ability to imagine pain is impaired.
You can see someone who is hurt and react to the violence
of that specific situation, but you cannot actually feel
the other person's discomfort. Regardless of how much
you may want to.
triggers a confusion of responses from people. Helplessness.
Fear. Anxiety. Sympathy. But none of those experiences
will cause one person to actually feel another person's
within ourselves the pain experience plays tricks with
is possible to recall the extreme unpleasantness of a
painful episode. It is possible to feel tremendous anxiety
about that same episode being repeated.
the actual memory of the pain itself is forever blocked
from our consciousness.
of course, that's good news.
be able to re-experience the actual neurological signals
of pain would create situations in which we would be constantly
dealing with a barrage of immensely disturbing and distracting
signals from the past. Living in the present would become
a colossal task as daily events would remind us of painful
experiences that would literally stop us in our tracks.
be fair pain occurs as an adaptation that, in truth, saves
our lives. And our survival as a species is proof that
it has apparently done pretty well.
when pain is felt, it shifts all the systems in your mind
and body to high alert. It forces itself to top priority
and drives your consciousness into focusing on the pain
and the discovery of the source of that pain to the exclusion
of all else. Your muscles tighten and spasm around the
affected area in an attempt to protect you from additional
harm. This produces an increase in apparent discomfort
that escalates from there until every ounce of your being
is wrapped up in trying to deal with the incredible onslaught
of unpleasant stimulation.
has only one interpretation by the brain.
as long as that perception remains valid, nothing short
of analgesia can resolve it.
since it is so purely subjective, assistance is hard to
is strange since we all have the capacity to be in pain.
the sad truth is that since we forget it once it is gone,
and since we cannot share the experience between people,
you're just not going to get much understanding from your
this sounds cold-hearted, think back over experiences
you've had when someone has been hurt.