Bleed the pain away!

There seems to be a meme built into Western culture (and possibly other cultures) that success or meaningful accomplishment requires sacrifice. In order to truly gain something, one must work hard. I’ve always been resistant to this philosophy — I often tout the phrase “work efficient not hard” though in truth I seldom do either — but I can’t claim to have escaped this notion’s grasp. If I accomplish something without effort, I’m suspicious of it… it’s “too easy.” To some degree, if I’m working on something like a piece of music or an article, I consider it done when I’m basically tired of it. The process has fatigued me, therefore it must be complete.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been reading a book called “The Great Pain Deception” about the emotional causes of pain. The author’s allegation is that most physical pain without an obvious cause (like a bullet hole or something) is fundamentally psychosomatic. He does acknowledge that back pain is sometimes cured by surgery (though the cure rate is not high, a fact I’ve seen confirmed in other sources). He argues that surgery works as a placebo effect — mind over body. (I should point out here that the placebo effect is a well recognized phenomenon even in mainstream medicine.) The author insinuates but doesn’t quite spell out an interesting point: that the placebo effect works in surgery because people are suffering for their cure — they are literally being cut open. It’s almost akin to those Catholic sects that show their subservience to God by whipping and torturing themselves. The logic is, “if I bleed, it must be good.”

Do we fundamentally believe that getting rid of pain cannot be achieved without great effort, great sacrifice? It’s impossible to prove the veracity of such an idea, but it’s certainly interesting to think about.

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