Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Brain and Pain

When we think of pain we think that and object and our body interacts in the wrong way causing us to feel pain. That is not the case, it is the brain that truly decided what is and isn't painful. That is why everyone interprets pain differently and why some people have a higher threshold for pain than others, because their brain perceives it differently. An example of how much of pain comes directly from our brain is the amount that one is focused on pain. If you place your hand on a stove and watch yourself why you are doing it, you will be in more pain because you are anticipating the pain that is going to come, but if you place your hand on the stove while doing a million other things and were not only not expecting the pain, but not focused on it either, the pain will be significantly decreased.

Phantom limbs are a phenomenon that commonly occurs to young men and women who loose their limbs but perceive the limb as still existing. Although they can visually see the limb is no longer present, their brain is not fully aware yet still sends signals to the body allowing the person to feel as though the limb is still present. The brain is capable of such strong signals that it can even cause the person to feel pain in their limb, long after the limb is gone. This phenomenon is extremely interesting because it shows us how much of our life and what we feel and perceive is a direct result of signals coming from the brain and signals we send to the brain. As if loosing a limb is not difficult enough, the victim must then continue on receiving pain signals for a part of their body that is no longer in existence. It is also dangerous for them, and not just mentally, but these victims whose phantom limb is their leg are known to try and take a step with out their prosthetic because the pain and signals they are receiving are so strong.
The real question is, if pain is all in our brain, is there a way to train ourselves to shut off pain completely?

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