Is Pain Real?

I haven’t written in quite a while. I think it might be two weeks since, and I apologize, if anyone is actually paying attention to me.

I’ll tell you that there’s been a lot going on in my life, much more than I’m comfortable or willing to share, other than simply that there really has been a lot going on.

This post is going to be a little different than some of my recent posts. I’m just going to share what I’m thinking, and hopefully some of you may relate. I’m not going to be referring to any particular book or citation, but simply just write.

So here it goes.

I want to start with a question, and that question is, is pain real?

This is very much a technical question as well as a philosophical one. It’s technical because on an objective level you could say yes, pain is real. When you experience pain, a series of nerve fibers send an impulse via the nervous system sending a signal to the brain that pain is being perceived, so then, you could objectively say pain is real. 

But of course, those same neurons that are firing off can be artificially triggered, giving the brain the same exact perception that pain, or at least the external force causing the pain, is there when it is really not.

So then, that leaves you with a strange question is pain real, or is it just a perceived feeling that represents an external action, but is ultimately not real? The same way the number “2” isn’t actually real, but is our representation of a particular quantity of an object.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve noticed a very strange thing that we humans have this useful, yet, at times, destructive tendency in our behavior. It’s our ability to change our perception of reality, thus, give us the illusion of pain being there, whether “real” or not.

Again, this is where you get into the trouble of defining “what is real?”.

I was sitting here at work, just minding my own business, the same as I always do, and, out of nowhere, the memories and the feelings and emotions came flooding back. And although nothing external had changed, I felt different. I felt hurt. I felt like I was in pain.

But, if anyone was around me, they wouldn’t even be able to tell. And that’s what I mean by, if no one but yourself is able to perceive something that you’re perceiving, is it real? It seems like an obvious answer, but there are many cases in which the opposite could be true.

Just a quick example would be in the case of schizophrenic patients in that what they are perceiving is very much real for them, but to the outside individual, is not. So then, would you say that the hallucinations are real? Are the voices inside his/her head real?

If you say yes, then okay, fair enough. Once again, we’re able to take it a step further then. If you were to say that the schizophrenic’s voices are real, then can you not say that the people who claim to “hear the voice of God” are also not hearing God?

Again, you could counter this with either that all those who claim to “hear the voice of God” as schizophrenic, though that would be unwise. Or you could claim that they’re lying, again, being an unwise conclusion.

So this brings me back to the point, is pain real?

And, again, although it seems like an easy answer, yes, by saying yes, you also are saying that all religious experiences are also real and valid.

But my point in this is not to validate religious experiences, but rather emphasize the reality of pain.

I think pain is the most real thing we can experience.

thanks for reading