Pain as a Life Strategy

Talking about undiagnosable chronic pain conditions, you could drug the sufferer to make them more convenient or you could look at what circumstances in their life make constant pain a viable and often the only possible life strategy. You could even do both at once but somehow the latter option always gets overlooked.

This applies to a host of things. Depression, anxiety, fatigue, ADD, gender dysphoria, chronic migraines, even early-stage diabetes. Try to make the symptom less noticeable (because who cares about the needs of the body, right?) or look at what’s causing it. Controlling the symptom is profitable because you get a lifelong patient. Plus, it works well with the consumerist mentality.

I once developed a condition that inexorably led me to the hospital. I asked myself, “why do I want to be at the hospital? What’s so attractive about it?” The answer was, I was exhausted and wanted to lie down and not move. It’s been 15 years. The condition never came back. I now lie down and not move whenever the fancy strikes, so the condition is unnecessary.

14 thoughts on “Pain as a Life Strategy

  1. “why do I want to be at the hospital”

    Ah a fellow believer in goal-directed illness (people getting really sick because that’s how they can get something they want that they can’t get by being healthy)!

    Do you also believe in metaphoric illness? (illness that is a metaphor of something going on in the sufferer’s life)?

    The two do often interact…

    Next thing I know you’ll be talking about emotional weather….. (weather conditions brought about by collective emotions in the people affected by said weather)

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    1. When somebody is persistently unwell with something nobody can diagnose and it just goes on and on. . . There might be a secondary gain at play.

      There’s somebody who once got paralyzed because the family wanted to emigrate and he didn’t. Just couldn’t move his legs. No medical reason, nothing. He wasn’t faking, it was real. They gave up on emigration, he got cured. That’s pretty metaphorical.

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      1. Your entire opinion on this subject seems to be limited to one book you once read, and a whole lot of “I have this one very specific example, thus everything about (including my opinion regarding the cause) it must be equally applicable every other human who even remotely shares one similar part of that specific experience.”

        Yet you can’t understand why the covidiots cannot be reasoned with.

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      2. “somebody who once got paralyzed because the family wanted to emigrate”

        Hysterical paralysis — which is the psychiatric term for the condition you describe — was not uncommon in America before Sigmund Freud became famous, and the general public became aware of dramatic psychiatric illnesses through popular news articles. Now this condition is very rare in the U.S.

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  2. Heh. I used to have a lot more migraines before I figured out how to say “no” to onerous social obligations.

    But I still get them from strobe effect: flashing lights will do me in every time. I’m pretty sure that’s not performative, any more than epileptics getting seizures from flashing lights is performative. There’s something neurological going on there that I don’t understand (but wish I did!).

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    1. Addendum: just thinking in text: It made me immediately uncomfortable to think about my migraines as a way for my body to get me out of social situations I didn’t want to participate in (I hate parties so much!). But, you know… introverts gonna introvert. I can live with that idea.

      So I looked it up just to verify… and yes, even animals with epilepsy have blinky lights as a seizure trigger. Same ones, too: christmas lights that blink, TV, camera flashes, emergency vehicle lights. Epilepsy and migraine are some weird relation to each other, and share some of their brain features like cortical spreading depression, and nearly all of their triggers.

      That suggests to me that the migraine disorder is totally real, and non-performative. It is a cascading neurological event that different people are more or less vulnerable to. BUT, social stressors can be a totally legit trigger mechanism that sets it off. Dogs do this too: epileptic dogs can have seizures triggered by their human family members arguing. So getting rid of social stress would tend to reduce the incidence. BUT social stress isn’t the only trigger, and not all triggers are equally under one’s control. It is interesting to think about certain kinds of visual stimuli as being stressful to the brain in the same way as intense social stress, though.

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  3. Not everyone is such a capable self-assessor. In fact, that’s why we have so many self-help books, psychiatrists and other medical professionals to help us. It is THEIR responsibility to help us assess us when WE cannot do it for ourselves. Unfortunately, they have abdicated this responsibility. And, they rely too heavily on the pharmaceutical industry to guide what should be their medical decision. There are also some of us who did everything humanly possible to heal depression or anxiety by reading, resting and living a healthy lifestyle and found no relief.

    I praise God for my homeopathic chiropractor who looked at me–the whole person–and found a way to heal me.

    But you are right in that it’s easier to treat the symptom. And companies are profiting immensely from it. Sadly, what began as modern medicine, and was consequently so beautiful and wonderful, has turned into a horrific curse. But I am still thankful for anesthetics that put me to sleep when I do need surgery. There was a time we didn’t have such a thing.

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    1. I think it’s really important to explore different methods, support alternative specialists like your homeopathic chiropractor to prevent pharma options from squeezing them out of existence.

      I’m all for modern medicine, anaesthetics, life-saving medication. But there needs to be space for other things. Unfortunately, there often isn’t. You mention to somebody that you got treated non-medicinally, and people immediately assume you are crazy, stupid, etc. Because apparently, being on 4 prescriptions by the age of 35 is very healthy and sane.

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      1. Heh, I mentioned my recurring bronchitis elsewhere recently, and someone told me they had theirs cured by a course of acupuncture. My reaction was “I’m totally trying that next time, if the problem returns!”

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I tried acupuncture for pregnancy sickness with my first pregnancy. My parents (and husband) were mildly horrified and very sceptical but I was pretty desperate. It didn’t help with the nausea, or not enough to make much of a difference in functionality, but it definitely changed some of the symptoms in an interesting way. I’ve wondered occasionally since then what it was actually doing. I still try to understand as much as possible about potential treatments before accepting them but I’m less sceptical than I was about alternatives.
          One of my friends is in training for her homeopathic certification and talking to her is fascinating.

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          1. My attitude about “alternative” and “folk” remedies is: if seems like it will not cause harm, and it won’t drain my bank account, it’s probably worth a try! It might not work, but what have I got to lose? With standard medical care, “won’t cause harm” and “won’t cost a fortune” are both highly questionable.

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