PAIN - THE HUMAN CONDITION
Written by SP contributor, ACG..
Yesterday, I read that your brain cannot determine the difference between psychological and physical pain - whether an individual is traumatised by a disturbing scene or endures a painful stimuli, the brain will become active in the same location. Yet, as I examine myself I find it hard to believe that the psychological pain that binds me, is just as valid as someone experiencing a well documented medical condition. I keep this illegitimate pain to myself.
It is easy to cultivate empathy for an individual when you can view their trauma. Humans have spent the best part of the last two centuries creating apparatuses to view why someone may be in pain, from x-rays to MRIs. We can now see internal bone fragments or growths on organs that threaten life; we can test bodily fluids to discover the secrets of one’s inner physical being. Yet, we still have no valid way to measure or understand the psychological pain experienced collectively by human kind.
Psychosomatic symptoms regularly perturb medical professionals - whereby a physical illness or other condition is caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress. Often grief, heartbreak or homesickness is so palpable it is felt in the chest, throat or abdomen. We have trouble with the concept that one can be in an acute pain from a broken heart rather than bone. This maybe understandable if humans experiencing psychological pain were the exception rather than the norm. Alas, this undetectable pain is a core component of the human condition - yet collectively we deceive ourselves into believing it isn’t.
I feel bound by invisible fibres that have been steadily and insidiously coiled around my being - by the individuals I attended high school with who relentlessly berated me; the men who had their way with my body while completely neglecting my being; my attentive father who suffered a bout of depression in my adolescence that I couldn’t understand and so blamed on myself; and oneself, for continuously starving, debasing and punishing myself for the mere crime of inhabiting this body.
I write this passage so the invisible fibres that so tightly bind my internal psyche may loosen and even over time, unravel. Because the brain cannot determine the difference between psychological and physical pain and unless I show people my trauma, it won’t heal.