Suffering is a Distinct Pain Feature

Simple study zapping volunteers drew distinction between unpleasantness ratings and suffering to point it considered it a distinct pain factor. This is not new news to anyone whose life has been changed by pain.

Suffering as an independent component of the experience of pain
S. Bustan, A.M. Gonzalez-Roldan, S. Kamping, M. Brunner, M. Löffler, H. Flor and F. Anton
European Journal of Pain in press

  • Felt that 3 major features to pain – severity, unpleasantness and suffering
  • found tonic (short web pinching) rather than phasic (longer) pain stimulation affected unpleasantness and suffering

Comment- suffering is built up of many factors – three worst come to mind:

  • ¬†future dread
  • social stigma and rejection
  • Seeing ones family decompensate

Top two brought on by needing to prove one’s pain and not knowing if one’s claim will be rejected. Bet people could add lots here.

Mindfulness meditation and goals striving ACT are two approaches to it – pain is inevitable but suffering in optional…
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One Response to Suffering is a Distinct Pain Feature

  1. Bluehills says:

    My mother once told me “that the one good thing about pain is that once it is gone you do not relive it (as in re-experience upon calling to mind)”. I understood from this that she did not mean that there is no suffering but rather that in God’s mercy we cannot relive pain one moment to the next but rather remember how horrible it was.

    As one who has never had a child, there is perhaps good reason for this? However, suffering me would be:
    -lack of hope of any possible, sustainable improvement without the total lost of the authentic self (somewhat borrowed from Victor Frankl…)
    -inability to demonstrate what appears to be strictly ‘subjective’ and therefore impacted by the practitioner’s view of the world (everything is subjective there is no Truth but rather each of our own invented truths (perhaps why Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has found such favour at this time in history?
    -the isolating loneliness which leaves loved ones exhausted from ‘trying and not succeeding’ and the person exhausted from living at 95% alertness and yet knowing no one in your world can function at that high level of acuity that you are wallowing in.
    -the final battle that wears away the basic animal instinct for survival which is “never limp until alone and safe from predators”.
    – physical pain that erodes the intellect, emotions and finally sense of self.

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