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Can Pain Be a Good Thing?

man with back painWe live in a culture which tells us that experiencing pain is a bad thing. We take pills to take it away; we have surgery to cut it out. Freud’s Pleasure Principle in Psychology refers to the instinctual drive we have to experience pleasure and avoid pain. That sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? No-one enjoys experiencing pain. But when we really exam this concept we can start to see the floor in it. What if pain is a friend rather than an enemy?

The body has a remarkable innate ability to heal itself. Even something as simple as its ability to heal a cut finger is a miraculous thing. All the body’s functions are processes that have developed over millions of years of evolution and every bit of this system is completely intertwined.

There have been huge advances made in modern science and yet the wisdom of the brain and body is not yet fully understood. Much of the medical research looks at the body in terms of distinct areas rather than as a whole. Is there not a danger that we miss the bigger picture?

As a consequence of some of this progress we have developed drugs which allow us to remove the sensation of pain altogether. In crisis situations certainly has a place, but often it is vital that we are aware of our pain. It reminds us not to touch a hot stove, to avoid worsening a serious injury by movement, or that performing a particular activity may not be good for our body. In this sense, pain is viewed as a way for our body to communicate with us. We can either choose to listen to the information we are being given or not.

Another positive aspect of pain is that it can be used as motivation when we need to change something in our lives. As a chiropractor I see this on a daily basis. Often people will seek help when they are absolutely fed up with an aspect of their health. In most cases they have been experiencing difficulties for a long time. As a result of this process many people learn to pay more attention to what their body is telling them and make changes that benefit their health sooner.

The best things in life are not those we come by easily, but rather the things we invest in over time. We study for many months to pass exams, train extensively to run a marathon and work hard over years to master our profession. Health is no different; don’t believe the promise of a quick fix.

Yours in health,

Jonny Hirtenstein

Book of the month: Mindfulness by Mark Williams & Danny Penman
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