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Pain: Why Does It Have To Hurt So Damned Much?

Updated on June 23, 2008

(And Will That Question Ever Be Answered?)

I'm not talking about physical pain, the kind you feel when you trip and stub your toe, or when you hit your leg on the kneehole of your desk. I'm talking about the pain that Janis Joplin sang about in just about all of her songs, such as "Ball and Chain: "And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now hon', tell me why/Why does every single little tiny thing I hold on to go wrong ?"

It's an inner, spiritual pain; and, at least in my experience, no amount of drugs or alcohol or counseling can ever really purge it. It will lay submerged in your psyche, dormant until some outer stimulus brings it back to the surface once more.

Where does this pain come from? Is it how one takes, as Shakespeare called them, "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune"? It seems that some people can actually allow them to bounce right off of them, feeling nothing. I don't believe that anyone is completely invulnerable to such pain; they are simply better than I am at defeating and/or pushing it down so deeply insides themselves that it never has a chance to make it back up to the surface.

Pain is one of the great levellers of life, one of the feelings that every human being has experienced at one time or another in their lives. I don't care how much money you have or don't have; I don't care if you have a job or if you're unemployed; I don't care if you're on the front pages of the tabloids or if no one on earth knows your name - sooner or later, you are going to be in pain.

Strangely enough, there are some humans who actually revel in feeling pain. And just as strange are those who very much enjoy inflicting pain on others. The really weird part, however, is the fact that those two groups don't really seem to be able to find each other, get together, and enjoy giving and receiving torment. No, the tormentors seem to only find those who don't want to be hurt, and the folks that want to be hurt seem to have to force others who are unwilling to do so to impose pain upon them.

Come to think of it, love and pain have a lot in common. There are people who want to receive love don't; and the people who want to give love can't seem to find anyone willing to take their love. Hmmm. I wonder: Is this something that is just one of those weird coincidences?

But I digress. No matter how much love and pain have it common, it still doesn't resolve the issue of why pain has to hurt so much, if at all. Well, I think I have the answer, and guess where I found it? That's right, in the American Heritage College Dictionary, Third Edition, where else?! It is defined as "an unpleasant sensation varying in severity, resulting from injury, disease, or emotional disorder." So by its very definition, pain hurts because it is pain.

'Nuff said.


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      Tyler 6 years ago

      I can see another reason for pain to hurt and it's one that lets me sleep better at night. It hurts to teach us a lesson. Like it or not, obvious or not, pain is the result of doing something stupid. Whether I screwed up a relationship or started one that I never should have, the pain is the to tell me "Next time, look before you leap"