Pain: A Complex Phenomenon

Pain: A Complex Phenomenon
  • We all have experienced pain, be it physical or psychological.
  • Trying to quantify or define the intensity of the hurt being experienced isn’t easy.
  • Pain is relative, as each of us has a different anatomical and neurochemical build, a different context that makes it unique.
  • All these factors make pain a complex phenomenon, and most of us are managing it pharmacologically (popping pills), which generally causes problems.
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Most drugs and over-the-counter analgesics only suppress pain, and we think that’s normal as we are brought up believing that pain is wrong and we have to feel good at all times.

Research in the 1980s showed that Americans are having more options to treat their problems and yet are having more illnesses than about 50 years before. This is ironic as these years also witnessed the maximum progress in treatments and vaccines, increasing life expectancy.

The basic mindset on how to tackle pain, by suppressing it with dangerous opioids or pain-killers is like treating a human body like a piece of machinery: Finding the broken part and fixing or replacing it.

The approach fails to understand how integrated the human body is, and completely ignores the cognitive processing and emotion that goes on inside it.

Just reframing the painful experience as something that is beneficial and can be simply endured, increases the tolerance levels in humans who have been accustomed to popping pills in order to feel better, at the cost of long-term complications.

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Pain: The Unwanted Discomfort
  • Pain, whether emotional or physical is practically unavoidable in the entire human existence. Drugs may blunt it to an extent (with severe side-effects), but we all dread pain and wish it wasn’t there in our lives.
  • Pain is, at its core, a flashing red light on the cockpit, a warning system of the human body, guiding it on what action, reflexive or respondatory, has to be taken.
  • Acute pain, like when you burn your hand on the stove, is essential to our survival and is something all living species(some say even plants) have in common.

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IDEAS

There is more to pain than just injury

Many people think that pain is the result of injury or damage to tissue. The reason for that is that pain warns us whenever we're experiencing tissue damage or are about to.

But there is more to pain. Our perception of pain is constructed from sensory information and context - our circumstance, needs, motivations, who we're with, and our expectations. This means that pain is more malleable and manageable than we think.

Overuse of antibiotics

Our gut ecosystem is becoming infertile for a multitude of reasons. Overuse fattening up farmed animals, C-sections (in which the baby fails to get a wash of microbes), and our own misuse of antibiotics all seem to contribute.

When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, he also warned about the dangers of microbes growing resistant to antibiotics. Almost three-quarters of the 40 million antibiotic prescriptions written each year in the United States are for conditions that cannot be cured with antibiotics.

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