The Paradoxes of Pain

From Nikola Tesla: “To a degree, pain is automatic, however, way our response to it is learned.  When a young child is learning to walk and then falls, there is a space of several seconds before his young brain realizes that he has fallen, and that perhaps he might be shocked or pained by this: generally the adults react much more quickly to the fall, getting up quickly and with anxiety. Sometimes it seems as though the child obliges his caretakers by crying suddenly, several beats after the adults imagine he would be crying.

“For thousands of centuries, human beings, as all other animals, had to deal with constant irritations and pain. Fleas, ticks, lice, various fungi and molds would attack everyone and everything; various internal parasites would cause several types of trouble, leading to constant pain of one degree or another. In point of fact, a certain amount of pain was deemed normal! If all you had to sleep on was straw or even just the ground, your body learned to sleep in spite of the discomfort.

“Yet now in the modern age, and especially in developed countries, you are almost never plagued by parasites of any kind. Your beds are generally soft, dry, and comfortable; you usually have cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter. In short, instead of  various levels of constant pain or discomfort, comfort is perceived as the normal state. 

“And yet: many of you are experiencing an epidemic of over-using pain killers, of millions that use alcohol or other chemical distractions to remove the pain you are feeling. Some of you, so fraught with emotional agony, distract yourself from that pain with the sharp, cruel pain of cutting yourselves!

“Is this only because the body is so used to living with constant irritations that it must invent pain to feel ‘normal’ again? Certainly, a lifestyle that is too clean, too antiseptic can destroy the biome balances. Is there something similar going on with pain? If we don’t have some, then we must invent it?”

To be continued…

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