Academician Brock Bastian asserts that the modern world misunderstands the nature of pain. In today’s view, he says, pain is a problematic malfunction of the body or mind. When any form of pain arises, whether it manifests itself in physical aches or emotional anguish, the modern idea is that you must eliminate it. People spend billions on painkillers and antidepressants, and they wall off the threat of pain with safe spaces, trigger warnings and positive thinking. Bastian says these actions only intensify the experience of pain. In this thoughtful, counterintuitive essay, he argues that pleasure cannot exist without pain. Bastian describes the neuroscience explaining why people find pleasure in long-distance running or eating chili peppers. He warns that if you attempt to numb pain and cushion discomfort, you’ll never develop the resources to contend with pain and will be at a loss when it arises. By dulling pain, you blunt your capacity for pleasure. Anyone struggling with pain can benefit from Bastian’s insights.
About the Author
Associate professor in the University of Melbourne’s School of Psychological Sciences Dr. Brock Bastian is a winner of the Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize.