Archive for February, 2010

The Value of Pain

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

He comes into treatment with a curious gift.

He can endure more than most.

He regales me with stories of enduring great physical pain and deprivation.

He could take more than most and therefore he would usually win.

He had an incredibly high pain threshold.

And yet………..

He reminded me of another obese patient I saw.  One day she told me that she never felt hungry.

I imagine that he never felt pain.

Sounds good, but…….



No Pain, No Gain.

How I hate the truth of that saying.

If we can’t suffer pain, then we are robbing ourselves of growing and developing.  Of course we all have our limits.

But if we live our lives avoiding suffering pain, never feeling hungry, sad, mad, etc., then how do we learn?

If learning is based on experience, and I am doing my best to avoid experiencing pain, then all I have learned is how to avoid.  Perhaps this is why drugs and medications are so effective.  They mask and avoid the pain.  This is probably why it is so difficult to break any behavior that is designed to avoid pain.


While I know and believe the value of pain, at times I feel lonely and sadistic as I sit in the consulting room and tolerate the patient suffering.

Shouldn’t I rush in and do something to help–ease the pain?  And I imagine that is what the patient is waiting for.  After all I am part of the “helping profession”.


I know, that within limits, robbing the patient of their suffering is not a gift, but a curse.

So I usually wait.  Wait for the patient to suffer.  But this is extremely hard at times.  There is so much pain to suffer that some days I want to go home and cry.



I imagine a “good enough” parent allows/ doesn’t rob the baby of it’s pain, within limits of course.

There is a fine line between neglect (too much pain to bear) and spoiling (no pain).

And how parents make this discrimination will probably lead to the next generation of patients in my consulting room.


If I can bear/suffer it.




Dr. Brody