Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Response to "PAIN: The Science of Suffering"

All-in-all, I have to say I really did enjoy Patrick Wall's book.  It delved far deeper into the science of, well, suffering, then I have to say I have ever really thought about before.  Possibly one of my favorite parts of the book occured early on, in chapter four.  This chapter, called "The Whole Body" details the various ways that the body may respond to a pain-related stimulus.  It went into a lot of detail regarding the ways that humans and animals would react to pain, throughout several stages.  One of the biggest reasons why this chapter interested me was that it offered a kind of explanation as to why someone that gets badly injured might be able to ignore that pain and focus on ways to get out of the painful situation; I had always assumed that the reason was because of nothing more than a rush of adrenaline, the kind of end-all be-all excuse for action movies and certain situations in real life alike.  To think that the brain is so complex that it can be aware of pain, but at the same time comprehend that there are more important matters at hand not only floors me, but also confuses me.  This idea seems to tie in strongly with the concept that the mind and body are two seperate entities - this is the concept of dualism, an idea that I feel has some merit, but at the same time I am unsure how to feel about the idea that decisions for how I might act in a certain situation are already decided for me.  Granted, it is good to know that I might automatically not feel pain if I am in a situation where I need my wits completely about me, and it is good to know that there is a set of behavior I might automatically follow in order to make sure I heal completely, but I am still unsure of how to feel about the whole concept in general.
Wall's method of writing is certainly very detailed, and I personally liked the fact that he included a chapter about the physical/medical terms regarding the effect of pain on one's body; this helped clear up a lot of issues I had about understanding the specific terminology and the physical way it all worked.

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