18 August 2008

Pain and self control

As some of you know, one of my abiding research interests is the relationship between pain and self-control. Thus I bring you this:

A scientist developing a prosthetic pain detection system to help lepers who had lost sensation in their limbs avoid damage describes its failure:

In the end we had to abandon the entire scheme. Most important, we found no way around the fundamental weakness in our system: it remained under the patient's control. If the patient did not want to heed the warnings from our sensors, he could always find a way to bypass the whole system. Why must pain be unpleasant? Why must pain persist? Our system failed for the precise reason that we could not effective duplicate those two qualities of pain. They mysterious power of the human brain can force a person to STOP! --something I could never accomplish with my substitute system. And 'natural' pain will persist as long as danger threatens, whether we want it to or not, unlike my substitute system, it cannot be switched off."

Brand, P. and P. Yancey. 1993. Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants. New York: Harper Collins. Pp.195-186

1 comment:

rld619 said...

An interesting study, too bad the brain could not be overcome! I suffer from chronic pain, neurologic pain, due to nerve damage in the L-5, S-1, area and the chronic pain radiates into my legs. I finally gave into a morphine pump inserted into my abdomen, to help dissipate the levels of pain I was experiencing. Like me, I am sure there are many that hope this technology develops, as an alternative to the costly physical and financial penalties of medicinal chronic pain control. Thank you for your post!