Who Needs Pain?
THE young woman was intelligent and seemingly normal. Yet she was different from others. As a university student, she amazed Canadian neurological experts. Even when needles were placed in her flesh, or when she was given electrical shocks, this woman felt no pain.
“Then,” reported Science Digest, “on Aug. 28, 1955, she was admitted to a hospital, suffering from a massive infection; for the first time in her life, she actually felt pain and was given analgesics to soothe it. She died two days later, at age 29, and an autopsy revealed a completely normal brain and nervous system.”—July 1978, p. 35.
PHYSICAL PAIN CAN BE BENEFICIAL
Earth wide there may be hundreds, or even thousands, of persons insensitive to physical pain. Reflecting on the suffering you may experience from backaches, injuries and the like, possibly you are thinking that it would be a blessing if you could not feel physical pain. In effect, you may say, ‘Who needs pain?’
But what if you sprained your ankle? Suppose you fell and fractured your arm. Or what if you had a serious infection? Obviously, it would be good to have the sensation of physical pain so that you could respond to it and remedial steps could be taken without delay. For that matter, ability to feel pain (as when you inadvertently touch a hot object) can result in action that prevents serious injury. Actually, immunity to pain could imperil your life. Pain can benefit you.
PAIN THAT NOBODY DESIRES
Yes, the ability to sense physical pain can be beneficial. But what about mental and emotional pain? Often these types are far more persistent and excruciating. Medicine, therapy or surgery may reduce or remove physical pain. However, emotional and mental pain can be totally debilitating and may keep a person in great distress for years.
Adversity certainly is a cause of emotional pain. Sensitive, kindhearted persons often find it very distressing to see fellow humans suffer, perhaps due to poverty, hunger and malnutrition. And, of course, it is extremely painful to experience such hardships and privations ourselves.
Oppression also results in emotional and mental pain. For example, oppressors may create a climate of great fear. That in itself can cause distress, to say nothing of the harsh day-to-day problems facing the oppressed.
Illness can be another cause of emotional pain, even for an individual who is not ailing personally. Is it not intensely painful to observe a loved one slowly succumbing to a terminal sickness? Especially is this so if the victim is experiencing acute physical pain.
Death of a beloved family member or friend can also result in great emotional pain. Israelite King David gave evidence of such inward pain due to his son’s death, for the grieving father cried out: “My son Absalom! Absalom my son, my son!”—2 Sam. 19:4.
No normal person yearns for emotional and mental pain. And surely nobody desires great physical pain. Who wants to suffer? But, then, who can do anything about the pain that has become so much a part of human life?