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Pain and Awareness

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Pain and Awareness

Postby Keesa » Wed Aug 06, 2003 11:55 am

"Go to sleep for a while. That way you won't feel it." <br /><br />That was always Mom's reply when, as a child, I tried to use a cut finger or a scraped knee to stay up a little longer. "But, MOm, I can't go to bed! It hurts!" <br /><br />Oddly enough, she was always right. ;D And when I was asleep wasn't the only time I could forget a paper cut or a scraped knee. Most things that interest me can divert me from my pain, as long as it is relatively minor pain. So...does pain (your own pain) cease to exist when you stop thinking about it? What do you think? <br /><br />Keesa
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby Skylax » Wed Aug 06, 2003 3:00 pm

In my case, all pain ceases when I am playing badminton with friends. But when I am busy with Latin or Greek, even time doesn't exist any more.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby vinobrien » Wed Aug 06, 2003 3:12 pm

Beer does it for me.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby klewlis » Wed Aug 06, 2003 3:26 pm

I'm not sure you can single out pain... pretty much any of our senses can be blocked out if we are concentrating on something else... we block out sounds all the time, for example. They still exist, but we filter them out so that we can concentrate on something else.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby mariek » Wed Aug 06, 2003 6:53 pm

[quote author=Keesa link=board=13;threadid=381;start=0#2936 date=1060170956]<br />"Go to sleep for a while. That way you won't feel it." [/quote]<br /><br />Sounds like my strategy to cope with colds/flus. Just knock me out with some medication so I can sleep and be ignorant of my discomforts.<br /><br />Some pains don't go away no matter how much you try to occupy yourself with other things. Throbbing pain form a badly sprained ankle. Feeling the loss of a loved one. No matter how much you try to distract yourself, you still feel an emptiness. <br />
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby mariek » Wed Aug 06, 2003 6:56 pm

[quote author=klewlis link=board=13;threadid=381;start=0#2949 date=1060183598]<br />pretty much any of our senses can be blocked out if we are concentrating on something else... we block out sounds all the time, for example. They still exist, but we filter them out so that we can concentrate on something else. [/quote]<br /><br />Yes, I agree this is true. <br /><br />How much of the world do we tune out in order to function effectively or not to go insane?<br /><br />
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby klewlis » Wed Aug 06, 2003 7:32 pm

[quote author=mariek link=board=13;threadid=381;start=0#2965 date=1060196176]<br />How much of the world do we tune out in order to function effectively or not to go insane?<br />[/quote]<br /><br />quite a lot, if my psych prof is right.<br /><br />this is why some people become autistic... they are physically unable to properly filter their senses and so they become overwhelmed and begin to shut out everything they can.<br /><br />i also know that you can have one sense which is hyperactive... i have a friend who is a musician and has a fantastic ear... *too* good, in fact, as it caused learning problems when he was a kid. he would be listening to *everything*, so found it hard to focus on one thing... for example, he can hear a coin drop in a noisy restaurant and can tell you what kind of coin it was... yet his wife has to remind him to actually concentrate on what she's saying when she's talking to him ;)
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby benissimus » Thu Aug 07, 2003 2:16 am

The body can quite easily deny the responses to physical pain from reaching the brain...<br /><br />Emotional pain is another thing altogether. I think it can haunt you even in your sleep, though less directly, by influencing and affecting your dreams.<br /><br />Pain being blocked, however, is just a matter of definition. If you meant can pain be blocked so that you cannot feel it, then the answer can certainly be proven by a little scientific research. The concept of whether it remains or not relies on what you actually define as pain - the electrical nerve impulses, the interpretation of these impulses by the brain, or the expected reactions to an undesirable situation.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby annis » Thu Aug 07, 2003 12:44 pm

[quote author=benissimus link=board=13;threadid=381;start=0#3002 date=1060222610]<br />Emotional pain is another thing altogether. I think it can haunt you even in your sleep, though less directly, by influencing and affecting your dreams.<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Ah! A topic of great interest.<br /><br />The Epicureans and the Stoics both asserted that human emotions are largely our own doing. In particular, while the Stoics recognized the instant of fear you get when you just dodge a speeding car, longer term emotions are just as much a product of training and habit as is our language.<br /><br />Someone walks up to you and insults you. How do you respond? Some people might end up in a fist-fight. But the Stoics assert that any anger that lingers from this is your own doing, and that emotion isn't some hydraulic force coming from your lower brain, but is consenting to an impression and opinion about the insult given you.<br /><br />To the Stoics, only those things truly under our own control are fit to dwell on at length. By this they mean our opinions, our thoughts, our actions that come from these to the degree they are unconstrained by outside forces. Some things not [face=SPIonic]e)p' h(mi=n[/face] "up to us": our health, our job, anything anyone else does, including their thoughts and actions. <br /><br />So, if someone is rude to you, there's no reason to dwell on it; there's no reason to get angry about it, especially since it is up to us to keep that anger around. There are modern schools of psychotherapy (rational emotive behavior theory) that endorse this view. Of course, modern Stoics and REBT theorists recognize modern research into chemical problems that can crop up in the brain.<br /><br />Of course, I'm simplifying this a bit. Textkit isn't the space for lengthy monographs on Stoic ethics. A good link:<br /><br />http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/stoa/stoics.htm
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby Puella Parva » Sun Aug 10, 2003 12:11 am

Pain is a thought process. When we stop thinking about it, it goes away, thus pain does not exist unless we want it to. Our bodies however use this thought process to(try)and keep us from damaging ourselves.(in my case it usually doesn't work.) :)
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby Keesa » Sun Aug 10, 2003 9:11 pm

Does the pain itself cease, then, or merely your awareness of it? <br /><br />Keesa
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby benissimus » Mon Aug 11, 2003 1:26 am

First you have to define pain. Is it the nerve impulses? If so, then it's not just a matter of "willing" it away. If, however, you are speaking of the mental concept of pain, then it may actually be debatable.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby Keesa » Mon Aug 11, 2003 3:01 am

Well, since this is the Academy, we must make it debatable...Let's say we're speaking of the mental concept. <br /><br />Is there a certain level of pain, beyond which you absolutely cannot ignore even the mental concept? Or is it always possible to ignore it, if in no other way than sleep?
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby ASim » Thu Aug 14, 2003 8:27 pm

Ah, here we go: of course, we do NOT need to define pain. We are all experts in the correct application of the concept of pain, and there is no reason to pretend otherwise only because we are thinking about it.<br /><br />Think of episodes of which you could truthfully say "this is a case of being in pain"!<br /><br />For instance: some of us have experienced how it is to wake up from our sleep BECAUSE we have a pain. Keesa's mother might be of little comfort in these cases. But don't we all know that we can get rid of minor pains be falling asleep?! Of course, and the pain is GONE then. But you can be in pain while asleep: think of cases where an sleeping person is moaning in pain. People with fevers, too, have been found to be in pain. But, GENERALLY, a sleeping person is not in a current state of felt pain. Here is another way that Keesa's mom wouldn't be a satisfactory advisor: it is of no help to try to fall asleep while you rest your hand in an open flame. (I also believe that Keesa's mom wouldn't give the advice in such a situtation).<br /><br />So, what is all this about. I think we can without much hesitation claim that to have a pain, you have to feel it, and that feeling something is a way of being aware of something.<br /><br />I believe, however, that Keesa and others may have been tricked by the word "awareness." Being aware of something comes in degrees, just like pain itself, and is not an on/off issue. There are many things I am aware of right now, or at any time. However, there are very few things that I am focussing on at any give time, and very few things that I am being aware of being aware of (this I do even fewer times, it's actually somewhat of an intentional effort).<br /><br />There are things you are aware of in your sleep (certainly when dreaming). Or while feverish. One can slowly BECOME aware of something, for instance when waking up. One can slowly loose awareness. <br /><br />To be aware of something is not the same as focussing on that something, let alone being aware of one's being aware of that something. I can, as I often do, focus on something entirely different but still be aware of my headache. Usually, that makes the headache more bearable than focussing on the headache. I am, in those cases, still in pain, but to a lesser degree; in those cases, I am still aware of the pain, but only lesser so.<br /><br />I am not sure that I understand what emotional pain is -- pains are sensations that we have, emotions are somewhat quirky and elusive somethings (no quite sensations, not quite thoughts, to be distinguished from moods), but calling something "emotional pain" (or is it rather "painful emotion"?)is just marking certain emotions as negative, as opposed to positive emotions. Love is probably considered positive by most and often thought of as an emotion (but this is certainly not without doubt); if negative, isn't it more the aspect of jealousy, abandonment, refusal, disappointment and similar episodes that presuppose a relationship with or expectation from another person like love? Or is there something else <br /><br />We have, I admit, a derivative use of the term "pain" as in "She is pained by the death of her only daughter." I believe, however, that these uses are derivative because we have better ways of expressing the same thought ("She is distressed", "She is inconsolable", "She is deeply sad and without a will to continue her life"...). We don't have that in the case of an occurring pain like, e.g., a headache.<br /><br />In the movie "Lawrence of Arabia", Lawrence extinguishes a burning match between his fingers without the slighest show of even the slightest pain. When his colleague in the basement room in Cairo asks "What's the trick?", Lawrence's reply is this: "The trick is not to mind."<br /><br />These are my first thoughts on this issue. In my view, the trick is to focus on "awareness."<br /><br />BTW: Keesa's last question is different from the original one and I would think it's an empirical one. In my experience(!), for what it's worth, the answers are "Yes" to the first and "No" to the last.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby Episcopus » Mon Aug 18, 2003 3:14 pm

Beer doesn't do it for me; it just puts me into trouble with the police...<br /><br />Badmintion rules however
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby mingshey » Wed Aug 27, 2003 2:24 pm

But the Stoics assert that any anger that lingers from this is your own doing, and that emotion isn't some hydraulic force coming from your lower brain, but is consenting to an impression and opinion about the insult given you.
<br /><br />Almost sounds as if sprung right out of a buddhist scripture(e.g. Dhammapada), hehe...<br />Hercule Poirot(The Death on Nile? I'm not sure) said something sounded like "Great Intellects are unanimous."<br /><br />As for pain, say a minor pain, I use the zen trick. I observe the pain working, feel it, then soon it feels as a flow of signal. It's still a pain, but it doesn't bother me.<br /><br />Some of the psychological studies show that human mind is a cooperation of at least two minds(; left and right brains?). That may be more. A part of my mind could stop coworking with the other part and behave like an observer. Perhaps we can separate a small portion of our mind by observing other parts of mind, as much as we can do so by concentrating on other matters, thus making the reserved part the "temporary me" and other parts like the outer world events.<br /><br />in a second thought, our brain is trillions of cells coworking to construct the mind. it could be subdivided into any number not greater than the number of brain cells. at least it might be clustered to form a relatively independent sets of minds, whatever. there're reports of multiple personality, anyway.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby annis » Wed Aug 27, 2003 3:10 pm

[quote author=mingshey link=board=13;threadid=381;start=15#5031 date=1061994263]<br />
But the Stoics assert that any anger that lingers from this is your own doing, and that emotion isn't some hydraulic force coming from your lower brain, but is consenting to an impression and opinion about the insult given you.
<br /><br />Almost sounds as if sprung right out of a buddhist scripture(e.g. Dhammapada), hehe...<br />[/quote]<br /><br />Yes, exactly! If you strip away some of the cultural metaphysics (reincarnation for Buddhism, the universe/Logos as an intentional being for the old Stoics), then there is a great deal of similarity between Stoicism and Buddhism. It was this realization that caused me to add Pali and some Buddhist texts to my library.<br /><br />
<br />Some of the psychological studies show that human mind is a cooperation of at least two minds(; left and right brains?). That may be more.
<br /><br />Marvin Minsky's, "Society of the Mind" explores this concept in some depth. Also, for plenty of animals the digestive system runs on its own sub-brain (ganglia) system. I think for insects a lot of interesting sophisticated control ends up out in the periphery, and the brain only coordinates.
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Re:Pain and Awareness

Postby Keesa » Thu Aug 28, 2003 11:37 am

I know when I studied drawing, I learned about the right and left sides of the brain, and how to "turn off" the left brain through a series of excercises so that I could use the right brain for my drawings. (It worked!) <br /><br />It would seem to me, then, that the idea of one part of the brain stepping back and being an "observer" of the other part of the brain. To take that one step further, and say that the second part of the brain (probably the left side) could watch the other side of the brain in pain is not such a large step. <br /><br />I wonder; the right side of the brain is more the creative side, while the left is more practical-would it make a difference if, for example, you cut your right finger and the right side of your brain detached to watch the left side in pain (as I remember, we're cross-wired ;)) or you cut your left finger and detached the left side of your brain to watch the right side suffer? I'm not sure...I also know that it's an experiment I won't be performing any time soon. ;D <br /><br />Keesa
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