Pain Be Gone New Scientist Article


A really interesting article called ‘Pain Be Gone’ in the New Scientist in January 2011 discusses way in which the mind can control pain.

OUCH! I have just been stabbed with a pin in the tender skin between my thumb and index finger. But instead of snatching my hand away, I lie still and carefully rate the experience, as instructed. Despite the initial shock, the discomfort is minimal and I score it a mere 1 out of 10.
Source: New Scientist – 22 Jan 2011

The above quote is extremely interesting as it higlights that sometimes what we expect a pain to be like is actually very different if we focus on it and give is score.

The idea that our minds control what we feel certainly fits with the anecdotal evidence. We have all heard tales of a soldier in the heat of battle only noticing their injury after reaching safety, for example. More commonly, we may be so absorbed in a good book we forget about a nagging toothache, say. Although these experiences are not the norm, they hint at the possibility of hijacking certain brain processes for pain relief.
Source: New Scientist – 22 Jan 2011

Take the fact that a good book can lessen a toothache. This highlights one of the key psychological modifiers of our pain experience: how much attention we are paying to it. Tracey’s group has shown, for example, that when people are given a counting task in the scanner, they feel less pain, and several parts of the pain matrix show reduced activity
Source: New Scientist – 22 Jan 2011

As mention in the above quoates distracting (see 6 D’s article) the mind can be a great way to help control pain.

Mood and emotion have turned out to be equally important. Last year, Tracey’s team showed that making people feel depressed in the scanner heightened the pain they felt from a hot probe, as well as boosting activity in several parts of the pain matrix. The researchers made their volunteers read demoralising statements like: “I am worthless” and played mournful music – Prokofiev’s Russia Under the Mongolian Yoke at half its normal speed.
Source: New Scientist – 22 Jan 2011

In a different approach, a group at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, tried to manipulate people’s mood by puffing different smells under their noses (The Journal of Neuroscience, vol 29, p 705). Bad smells, like rotten fish, put people in a bad mood, and made them rate the pain as more unpleasant, while nice smells like violets or lemon meringue had the opposite effect.
Source: New Scientist – 22 Jan 2011

By focus on your how you are feeling can really change the pain, so if you are feeling down after months of pain it can begin to feel worse. This is the time to really take back control of the situation causing you pain. If you would like support or help with this please contact us The Possible Mind.

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