Painful Proof

Most of us are wary of pain. We take all possible measure in every possible way to ensure that we avoid pain. And most of us carry a host of sprays and gels and pills to ensure that we stop pain, if it does manage to become a part of us. There is no way we can fathom and understand pain (like pleasure), yet we understand when people are in pain.

There are some, that experience pleasure in pain, whether inflicted on the self or others. The ability of pain to give pleasure is ridiculous to many. When you look at this concept in the context of certain philosophies of pleasure, it takes on different (potentially contradicting meanings).

I digress. (But it was relevant, in a way to the Pleasure Principle)

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We feel most alive when we are happy, the entire world seems to belong to us. We want to dance, sing, talk, or do whatever it is that makes us express this full-of-life feeling. In pain too, we express, albeit differently. We cry, scream, shout or do whatever it is that makes us express the hurt. In a state of experiencing pleasure, there is a subconscious awareness that we are alive, yet there is no way to point to specific place or a thing and say, here, this is why; this is where the pleasure is. In pain, there is a heightened (I was thinking of using the word painful) awareness of being. It is local, it is specific, it is (almost) tangible. No other experience makes us as aware of our being as pain.

Pain is proof that we are alive.


20 thoughts on “Painful Proof

  1. Pain is proof that we are alive, that there is something inside that matters and that it hurts. And pain is when we know ourselves and are with ourselves, because it is the only thing which is so personal.

    Good attempt at art. I didn’t understand it, though. šŸ˜¦

    Maybe the pleasure is the left part, abstract curves and pain is in the form of concrete boundaries with interconnected lines. eh.. Did I just interpret modern art? šŸ™‚ Hee Haw


    • So you did complete the last sentence. And you did it well. šŸ™‚ I wish I had written that.

      As regards the art, I guess it is a good attempt, it won a prize (even if it was a consolation). And I don’t believe that you did not understand it. You have interpreted it just right!

      This was a submission to the Migraine Action Association in the UK.


  2. That is a thought.

    But I disagree.

    I think every emotion has it’s place. I think every feeling is tangible. I think we have to pay more attention to what it is we really feel and where that originates from. Just because something makes us fleety while some others grounds us, they don’t become more important or existent that the other.


    • Not to take away the value of any other emotion or feeling. Yes, many emotions are tangible. However, pain is the one that we “feel” the most and while we have words to describe it (cramps, stingy, dull, pin-prick, etc) it is probably the most specific and concentrated of all. We can seldom describe the happiness or anger that we feel, for example.

      Compare “I just feel Happy”, vs. “I just feel Pain”. How many times do we ever say the later?

      Again, different emotions have different value and importance. Pain, is the most specific, most tangible, and most concentrated of all.



  3. I don’t agree. But, I am happy to accept your viewpoint.

    There are days when we are happy, and we have no clue why we had been smiling. That should make one feel alive too, I hope.


      • I’m sorry I don’t get it. Why is a local pain more representative of being alive than an “all-over” feeling? That was exactly my point!

        One would readily believe, on the other hand, that an “all-over” feeling is more representative of ‘being’ and ‘living’ than anything such as a ‘local’ pain!


        • In evolutionary terms, pain is not proof of our being alive. There are many species who survive because of their advanced response to pain.

          On a different level, if I try to understand the gist behing your post:
          “In a state of experiencing pleasure, there is a subconscious awareness that we are alive, yet there is no way to point to specific place or a thing and say, here, this is why; this is where the pleasure is.”

          Perfectly true. But the fact that there is no localized exression of pleasure whilst there is a localized expression of pain does not equate to proof of being alive. In fact, why should a localized expression be a test in the first place? I can go on and on, but will stop here. Thanks a lot for this insightful post! šŸ™‚


  4. I understand where you’re coming from – with your example of dental pain. Regarding ‘tangible’ feelings of being alive, you are right.

    However, I do not understand how this explains the feeling of being alive that I have when I am in orgasmic delight, or at the end of concluding creating an artistic art from, or the feeling of happiness after scaling a Himalayan mountain. It is not the pain, but the pleasure that defines the happiness of the moment.

    As you can see, I stubbornly refuse to believe that it is pain that defines ‘proof’ of human existence!


    • To this comment and above – I guess you did get the gist of the post – you have wonderfully stated that in the reply above – in a single sentence. What would the world be if we all agreed on everything? Thank you for a wonderful conversation – seems I will have to follow-up to this post!



  5. Ah. Maybe pain makes you detach from being a bit (and makes you flirt with non-being) and be aware of being. While at the acme of pleasure, we’re too “at one” with the being to be aware of it.

    My (almost unnecessary) two cents.



  6. Sorry, but more of my innumerable two cents on this:

    Pain is frequently a sensory event, experienced at a sensory level, by our primordial brain. Happiness, on the other hand, is usually a more evolved conceptual awareness.

    Thus, contrast the pain of a thorn biting one’s foot with the happiness of one winning a medal.

    I think what you’re trying to get at is that the sensory experience is closer to life than the conceptual. At an organic, biological level, I will tend to agree with you. The sensory is always more tangible than the conceptual.
    However, I prefer to focus on the distinctive qualities of humans since I take the biological reality of life as a ‘given’. Because of that, in the human context, I prefer pointing to happiness as the proof of life.

    Notice the words in your post: “We feel most alive when we are happy”. That describes the unique human experience.


  7. Pingback: Remains of the Day: 014 | Gaizabonts

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