You might know that I find pain extremely fascinating. One of the reasons I find it so interesting is because pain is hugely context driven.
Here are a few examples:
A minor finger injury will be felt more acutely by a violinist than a dancer. And the pain will be felt more in the left than right hand because the left hand is so crucial to a violinist. Injury here has far more significance than to a dancer. The reverse is true for a foot injury.
Ever heard of dads-to-be with phantom pregnancy symptoms? Yes, this happens! Seeing a partner going through all the changes of pregnancy combined with the stress of the impending birth can evoke morning sickness, cramps, back pain and even swollen bellies in dads!
Studies show that demolition derby drivers who experience up to 150 collisions a year will only suffer minor neck pain lasting less than 21 days. Compare this to people who have car accidents and ongoing pain for months and years. Why might this be? Perhaps, because for the derby drivers, it is their hobby and they are having fun, whereas road accidents are usually emotionally traumatic, and may involve lots of follow up legal wrangling.
To give you a more everyday example of pain and context imagine stubbing your toe on the way out of the door to a job you hate. Ouch! Now imagine doing the same but this time you are off on the holiday of your dreams.
It’s a very different sensation isn’t it? That is pain. It cannot be divorced from the context.