Yet many chronic pain sufferers note that medical staff will often downplay their pain, as if the person feeling it - literally the only person who can feel it and, thus, assess it - doesn't really know how it feels.
We see the same thing happening with emotional pain. Lost loved ones, break-ups, betrayal - people frequently hide their pain to avoid someone telling them "it isn't that bad", or worse, comparing it to a similar event in their own lives.
Here's the thing, experience and the nuances of bodies and relationships automatically means that there is no way for you to know how another person is experiencing their pain. Period.
If someone lost a grandparent, and you lost a grandparent, maybe they had a close relationship that makes their pain different. Maybe they regret not having a closer relationship. Who knows? Not you.
If someone exclaims that what they feel, physically, is the worst pain they've ever felt, why would you say that's not true? Maybe you have broken a bone, as well, but was it in the same spot? Do you both have the same sensitivity to pain due to numbers of nerves, myelination, how close pain receptors are to the damaged part? Do you have the same pain experiences to base the "worst" on?
I'm going to say no.
We like to do this. We compare and contrast what we see in other people against what we have actually experienced for ourselves. And we judge them, usually with the bias in favor of our own experiences being "worse." Like it's some kind of sadism competition.
I've done this myself in varying degrees, but sometimes, the situation is a socialized one.
I have to admit, when videos started up showing men "experiencing labor," I laughed as hard as any woman. Why? Because I've spent my entire life with men comparing various injuries to labor, as if repeatedly tensing every muscle in your body tighter than you ever thought they could clench to push out a baby could somehow compare to... anything else.
It bothers me because, while women are often portrayed as fragile, sensitive and overly emotional, they are also seen as being flawed in experiencing their own bodies. If people are fragile, doesn't that mean they really DO experience more physical pain? If people are emotional, doesn't that mean they really DO feel more emotional pain?
An article recently declared that doctors have "admitted" that women can experience menstrual cramps at the same pain levels as heart attacks. I turned to my husband and said "This is why women don't know they are having a heart attack; they are used to that level of pain."
What I didn't say is that they are also told that the level of pain many women experience on a monthly basis is also something they are humiliated for. Why would anyone admit to that level of pain after years of being put down, ignored, or bullied for experiencing? Wouldn't you blow off the pain of a heart attack too?
Emotionally, the situation is parallel. If someone is sensitive, they are often humiliated or bullied over it. If they complain, we say things like "I went through the same thing" or "you just need a thicker skin." Then society doubles down on this by arguing that (mostly) women need to leave abusive partners.
|I guarantee most people on pain medicine|
wished a massage would fix it.
We also tend to bully and humiliate and shame people who take medicine for pain management, prioritizing controlling drugs over finding solutions to the addictive nature of our most effective pain drugs, prioritizing "more spiritual" treatments over pills, and shaming people who just can't deal with something they are experiencing but that the shamers are just guessing at.
As there are millions of gods and goddesses representing millions of nuances of emotions (love, sex), actions (war, protection), ideas (truth, honor), and more, we need to HONOR the emotional and physical differences in people's experiences and perspective of pain. We need to stop making it about what we THINK, and start making it about what they FEEL.