Wednesday, 13 October 2010

" It has long been observed that emotions can play a dramatic role in the perception of pain. one of the often-cited examples took place during World War 2 and was described by Dr. Henry Beecher, a medical officer admitting casualties to an army hospital ( and later an expert in pain at Harvard ). Beecher made a remarkable observation about the soldiers wounded on the battlefield at Anzio, where serious injuries were numerous. When admitted to the field hospital , these soldiers were asked if they were in pain and if they needed pain medication (morphine). A remarkable 70 percent said that they weren't in pain and didn't need morphine.
When he returned to the States, Beecher conducted a test with civilians who had similar injuries. He asked each person the same two questions he had asked the soldiers wounded at Anzio : are you in pain, and do you want morphine ? This time, 70 percent said yes to both questions. He hypothesized that the difference in the perception of pain was caused by the fact the wounds meant very different things to the two groups. The soldiers he treated were largely relieved, almost ecstatic: they had survived the battle and the wound meant they were getting away from the battlefield, away from war and possibly being sent home. The injured civilians, however, faced major disruption to their lives as a result of their wounds, such as serious difficulties functioning and the loss of income. Beecher's observations about how these two groups perceived the pain from similar injuries differently, was a first step toward a new model of pain that looked beyond the severity of the wound to the emotional state of the injured person."
This is from Dr Fehmi's new book "Dissolving Pain". His work confirms what I have experienced in tai chi and open focus training, that is, when we change 'how' we are paying attention through working on postures or attention exercises, our stress levels drop, our emotions become more stable and so we tend to experience all of life in a calmer and more content way.

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