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The Distinction Between Pain and Suffering

Most of the serious diseases usually cause common negative perceptions among the patients. While some people can feel extreme pain, others undergo unbearable suffering in the course of the illness. Though the notions of pain and suffering are likely to denote similar states of health, in many cases they can mean different phenomena.

Despite the relation between pain and suffering, these concepts are distinct in many aspects. In the first attempts to clarify this idea, pain was considered to be rather a physical issue expressing a mechanical reaction to a negative stimulus. Contrarily, suffering was mostly said to have emotional nature. Such a strict separation between these two senses thereby presupposed that human mind and body are divided as well (Nelson 19).

Meanwhile, the new fields of research, such as psychoimmunology, developed an idea that mind and body are closely connected. Thus, the new definition of pain presents it as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience (Nelson 19). In fact, emotions can either intensify or reduce the perception of pain. In its turn, suffering is only a psychological or personal dimension of pain (Coulehan 227). In other words, pain causes suffering, as people always suffer from the sensation of extreme pain. Even if the cure is hardly possible, there are always some ways to relieve pain by means of medical treatment. However, it is not so easy to diminish suffering, as it differs in various personalities, diseases, surroundings, and the relation between all these factors (Finn 6). Suffering can become less perceptible only after influencing its root causes, whether it is pain, affliction, or loss.

To sum up, the concepts of pain and suffering are intertwined and in some cases even stand for one common notion. However, pain mostly corresponds to physical experience, while suffering stands for the emotional state as a respond to enduring negative conditions. Consequently, one can find the treatment to reduce pain, but there is no medical cure to ease suffering.


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