Thursday, 6 September 2012


“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” - Kenji Miyazawa

I read a story once about someone who could not feel pain. The point of the story was that he felt invulnerable physically and just kept on going. The bad thing about this of course is that the inability to perceive pain is a severe danger because the person has no way of understanding when his body is being put in mortal danger by way of cuts, punches, blows, burns, or even gunshots. The awareness of painful stimuli is an evolutionary necessity to avoid injury and death.

Congenital analgia, is seen in a cluster of rare conditions where a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain. There are generally two types of non-response exhibited. Insensitivity to pain means that the painful stimulus is not even perceived: A patient cannot describe the intensity or type of pain. Indifference to pain means that the patient can perceive the stimulus, but lacks an appropriate response: They will not flinch or withdraw when exposed to pain.

Congenital analgia is very serious. Few people with the condition live past the age 25 years, because they are assailed by serious damage and injury, and they fail to react. Whether these people fracture bones, burn their skin, scald themselves drinking boiling water, the lack of pain can cause immense and life-threatening damage to the body, which can be left untreated.

This is serious problem for parents bringing up such children, and later on, for these people themselves for when they become older. Furthermore, these individuals have nothing wrong that can be found with their nervous system. They have normal intelligence, they have normal nerves, the nerves seems to conduct signals normally, their brain seems to be put together normally, and it doesn’t make any sense by the current theories of how pain is controlled. The condition has been traced down to a gene called SCN9A, and in affected people, the normal way in which this gene functions is disturbed.

When we are in pain we tend to feel bad about it and pray that the pain goes away. This is especially true in situations where people suffer from constant and chronic pain, for which they must be prescribed strong analgesic drugs. In other case as after an injury or an operation, we feel intense pain that makes our life miserable. We may curse pain and see it as the enemy from within. But pain has a reason and its existence serves a useful purpose, which is fundamental to our survival. Pain is like a good friend who gives us honest but unpleasant advice, which although we may not like, we know is best for our well-being.

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