pain itself need not be negative.



Excerpt from “The Sweet Spot” the pleasures of suffering and the search for meaning

But it turns out that pain itself need not be negative.

We can get some hint of the complexity here by looking at certain conditions.

You may have heard of congenital analgesia.

People who suffer from this can feel themselves being cut or hit, but they don’t register these experiences as pain, and so have no intrinsic motivation to avoid them.

Most people with this condition don’t live past their twenties, and this illustrates the importance of pain, both in preventing injury and allowing injuries to heal.

A more puzzling syndrome is pain asymbolia.

This is a condition wherein people feel pain and describe their experience as painful—but they don’t find the pain to be unpleasant.

They offer up parts of their body to doctors and scientists for intrusions that, for you or me, would be agonizing.

But it’s not as if they are numb; one patient reported, “I feel it indeed; it hurts a bit, but it doesn’t bother me; this is nothing.

This disorder is associated with damage to parts of the brain such as the posterior insurance and the parietal operculum, areas that, more generally, respond to threat.

Such a syndrome should open our eyes to the idea that the experience of pain need not be inherently unwelcome.




3 responses to this post.

  1. Excellent article!

  2. It is interesting

    My chronic pain steals energy but does not discomfort me much

    My ptsd emotional pain is my weakness

  3. I can relate to that.

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