Pain is a tricky subject

Pain is a tricky subject.

Pain does not stand alone. It does not exist unless there is someone to feel it. It is not noticeable unless the person who feels it indicates it’s there.

Pain cannot be measured objectively. Its effects can sometimes be measured in muscle contraction or neural activity or temperature or swelling, but the degree to which those things can be determined does not necessarily correspond to the amount of pain that is felt. It’s not the same for everyone.

Pain can be a direct result of a tangible event, or the result of complex processed in the nerves or the brain. Or both. It can be acute or chronic, traumatic or inflammatory, physical or neuropathic.

Pain cannot always be described, but you know it when you feel it.

Pain is the one sensation we are all presumed to want to avoid, yet it is actively sought out by some.

Pain confirms our existence even as it makes that existence uncomfortable, or even unbearable.

Pain is judged. It is seen as evidence of physical, mental and moral weakness. It is called an excuse, or no excuse, for unacceptable behaviour, for actions deemed non-normative.

Pain is pitied, accepted, rejected, embraced, denied and defied.

Pain is personal. And the personal is political. So, oh, yeah, pain is political.

Join me as I examined the politics of pain. Or rather, a philosophy of pain. I want to look at it from as many different POVs as possible.

I can’t promise a 100% objective study. Pain and I are too close for that.

I won’t say it will be easy. I know too well how difficult pain can be.

I hope I won’t limit my scope too much, but I’ll probably turn the focus on my personal pain, and why not? It’s as good as anyone else’s pain, maybe even better than some. We’ve had a lot of practice together, pain and I. We’ve had years to get to know each other, but in spite of our familiarity, pain still has the ability to take me by surprise, even when I’m expecting it.

I promise to try to keep things interesting. After all, there is rarely a dull moment when pain is around. Tedious, frustrating, unrelenting and gruelling, perhaps, but not dull. Even when the pain is dull, there is always some aspect of it worth your while.

I’d like to invite you to share your pain as well. Imagine if all the pain could be spread equally. You could have a little of mine; I could have a little of yours. Everyone would have something new to experience. As they say, a change is as good as a rest.

Except, just once, I’d like a rest for a change. But that’s a topic for  another day.

For now, let’s just recognize that pain is one of those intimate things we don’t like to talk about, but deserves to have a little light shed upon it. I’m tired of trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. How about you?

Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 2:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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