Does Pain Actually Hurt?

From Vsauce2.

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When we think of the human experience, we tend to focus on the good things: love, happiness, and progress. But what if the most important part of our lives is actually one of the worst? Our relationship with pain stretches back further than any other sensation, and it turns out that pain has been and continues to be our most important teacher. We paradoxically need something awful to survive. Vsauce2 explores the science and psychology of pain going all the way back to our four-legged ancestors.

Despite pain dictating daily life for millions of years, we’ve only come to understand exactly how it works fairly recently. We now know the exact physiological mechanisms of how pain works within our bodies — which evolved from rudimentary scientific theories from Descartes and others — but we’re still figuring out how it works within our minds. And as we navigate the science of it all, from neuroscience to psychology, we uncover more questions than ever. Should we eliminate pain, or should we learn to live with it? What happens to our identities when we take all the pain away, and is it worth the cost to ourselves? What is society’s responsibility to relieve pain, and how does politics factor in? How much of your pain is real and how much pain is essentially imagined?

On the surface it seems like an ideal world would be one completely devoid of pain, with strong mental health in conjunction with physical wellness. But the reality is more complex, and it’s worth thinking about the implications of the convoluted link between pain and suffering that we can’t live with… and can’t live without.

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Hosted and Produced by Kevin Lieber

Research and Writing by Matthew Tabor

Editing by John Swan

Huge Thanks To Paula Lieber

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