Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Reflection of Pain: The Science of Suffering by Patrick Wall

Although a short book, the density of the subject matter is formidable. What is pain? How do we separate the physiological and the psychological aspects of it? What are they? What role does our medical industry play in the ongoing effort to suppress pain? And finally my real question, can it ever truly be extinguished? These are just a few of the questions that began to formulate during my time spent reading this paperback. Patrick Wall is gifted in that the topic of pain is one of hindrance, for within every society including our own it is a topic shrouded in mysticism, mystery, and taboo. Wall attempts to slice the meat from the bone if you will, exposing the raw and often grotesque truths of pain itself. It is a topic that can truly never be measured, because just as each mind is unique to an individual, so is their conception and preconception of their own pain as well as the suffering of others. While reading this book it made me think about exactly what pain is at least in my own world of thought. Yet not long after, I realized I was thinking upon the wrong notion. I don’t necessarily want to understand my pain, but the pain of others. However ridiculous that may sound, it doesn’t benefit me to analyze my pain because it can never truly be expressed. It then made me think of just how many people I know or have seen suffer merely muse upon themselves. Whereas, perhaps a better use of time would be to communicate with another in pain similar to what they are experiencing. Through that, they might actually understand each other better. It in my mind is a better gain to understand another, than to focus solely upon oneself. Pain should not be given any more of an isolating quality than it already inherently possesses.

1 comment:

Jaak said...

While I agree with you that is important to make an effort to understand the pain of those around us, I think it's a two-way street. If your pain cannot be expressed and you are the one experiencing it, who are you to think that you will gain insight to the pain of another? It can't be all or none, but instead, a group effort. It's inevitable that there will be some things that don't [and often can't] translate from person to person for whatever reason. Instead of either person shirking duty, would it not be more effective to attempt a compound view of the pain at hand?