so much Pain, so little Time...

Pain should be:

  • Embraced like a sensual Lover!
  • Avoided like the Plague!
  • Embraced and Avoided!
  • Neither/Nor
  • Either/Or
  • …only discussed on Beer-Friday, Atalanta!
0 voters

Pinhead: Which do you find more exhilarating, Pain or Pleasure? Personally, I prefer Pain. [size=75]–HellRaiser[/size] :astonished:

You are outside life, you are above life, you have miseries which the ordinary man does not know, you exceed the normal level, and it is for this that men refuse to forgive you, you poison their peace of mind, you undermine their stability. You have irrepressible pains whose essence is to be inadaptable to any known state, indescribable in words. You have repeated and shifting pains, incurable pains, pains beyond imagining pains which are neither of the body nor of the soul, but which partake of both. And I share your suffering and I ask you, who dares to ration our relief?..We are not going to kill ourselves just yet. In the meantime, leave us the hell alone. [size=75]–Antonin Artaud[/size]

[b] ===> Should Pain (not the physical type) be embraced like a lover, or avoided at all costs?

===> Is Pain the root of Knowledge, Intelligence and Creativity?

===> Can Pain be measured?[/b]

No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell. [size=75]–Antonin Artaud[/size]

I have a small interest in the topic of ‘what pain is’, though I can’t say I have anything approaching an ‘informed’ opinion. One question which occurs to me though is this; if you ‘prefer’ pain, does what you are experiencing still remain ‘pain’, or does it become something ‘hybrid’? At the same time though, it would seem that there is a definite difference between a ‘masochist’, and a ‘normal person’ - i.e. that the pleasure of the former is a relation to something which the latter does not have. Yet because of the seeming dependence of our normal conception of ‘pain’ on more than just this mere ‘something’, I would lean towards defining pain in very narrow terms, and describe ‘the rest’ as being something with a different causal relation.

In any case, I cannot really answer your questions, as I feel they need to be asked differently. I have therefore selected;

F) …only discussed on Beer-Friday, Atalanta!




p.s. It can also be discussed on Beer-Thursday or Beer-Saturday. :wink:


I don’t think the question is on whether or not you choose pain. It’s more a question of how to deal with it since it already exists. And in dealing with it, does it have a purpose?


I don’t like pain… but when it comes along I’ll accept the fact that it’s happening, and… I will usually write. Not posts but like poetry or fiction. So in that regard I’d say it at least undermines some part of my creativity, but I also love to write sober, stoned or anywhere inbetween. So I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the ‘root’ of creativity.

I feel like, at least for now, the only thing that separates us from some of the more ‘intelligent’ computers out there is that our ‘function’ our… ‘program’ is driven by pain/pleasure. Like alot of things you can’t really know one without the other. So for example, if I were really depressed or something for a long time… eventually I would forget what the pain actually is… because it’s all I know (mind you, if there were small pleasure intermissions in there sporadically it would suck… and hence actual depression). Without emotion, we would have no purpose, no reason to stay alive. Think of it as the opposite as Smith in the Matrix, without his ‘purpose’… all he can do is destroy.

Ahh… now you got me thinkin about the matrix again.

Gobbo out


My concern was first to ask the question; what is pain? Of course I did not suggest that it does not exist. Asking ‘how to deal with pain’ already presupposes that you understand what it is you are dealing with. That we all have a particular understanding of pain is self-evident, but perhaps it is also true that those who understand it better are, partially if not wholly, better able to cope with it. This is because, speaking very roughly, they have a greater level of awareness of how they ‘connect’ with the world; and thus, in an existential sense, of what their own potentialities might be.

I was not, in any case, really asking whether or not we ‘choose’ pain; though it is correct to say that I approach this topic from the direction of my greater concern for ‘freedom’. I think that the example of someone who ‘takes pleasure from pain’ makes plainly evident the complexity inherent in how we relate to it, i.e. how it has an effective reality which is not purely ‘physiological’, and how we are implied in a sort of ‘immanent causation’ in aspects of this process. (again very roughly speaking)

And so I say that the entirety of how we might answer the question; ‘how do we deal with pain?’, is contingent upon the understanding of pain we happen to have. I consider this a mundane point, but what it facilitates is the possibility that different understandings of pain can both foster and demand different answers as to how to deal with it, even assuming that this range of answers is not infinite in variety. In other words, each person needs to deal with pain in a way which suits the way they experience it.

On the other hand, the question of whether it has a ‘purpose’ I consider to be either redundant or wrong, depending on the sense you intend. I actually think that, from my experience of the different contexts in which this question is posed, it arises from the way that the question is situated in between the two (as I see it) possible senses - and that is why the question is, for mine, frequently confused and/or confusing.

One answer though might be this; 'pain does not have a purpose; (because) our lives do not have the logic of a story or narrative, which has a beginning, middle, and end (denouement). However, pain has significance/meaning in the same way that everything which we experience has it - that is the sense in which the question may be said to be redundant - because it implies a special understanding of ‘purpose’ which belongs elsewhere.



No pain, no gain. Vice versa. Ying and yang exist in mutal necessity, because relativity is a fundation of sensitivity. Pain is something that makes you pine for gain, while keeps you reminded of how desirable gain is. Therefore pain is an indespensible drive for leading a satisfactory life. Pain is the the desperate resistive mechnisim of your will to power, in front of the constrain of which, pain does the cheap trick to render the oppression felt by the will. In pain, the will stays in existence and seeks resolution to gain. When the magnitude of the external invasion is too much for ego to bear, for pain to bear, then death befalls, as the termination of the will arrives. There is no such a thing as “too much to bear”. It’s merely a romanticist braintwister to think of the idea of “embracing pain”, it has no scientific or any logical basis. The man who seeks pleasure in pain is a drunkard without any proper gain. The man who burries himself in a forest of pleasure doesn’t know any true pleasure. There is no need, even bad, for you to consciously to mess with this highly deep and innate existential system. One needs to know when to trust intuition over reason. The reasonland is a dangerous place, more often to a gateway to hell than heaven. You need to be devoted enough, pantient enough, humble enough and strong enough to wonder on this land. Do not stop halfway and fall into romantic nihilist holes. March on in the light of the scientific sun, in the direction of the Nietzschean way. You’ll be amply repaid. Then you don’t have to live in prays for a dead Jew, you don’t need to wet your pillows just to fall asleep, you don’t want to indulge your pain as a way of life by reading poets. “All woo says: go, fade away! All joy wants deep, deep eternity.” Now we know what the will regards as a means, and what it regards as an end. You seek the means as the end in itself? This is a typical case where the intellect of a thinker is losing to the intuition of the herd.

With the current design of our neurological system pain is neccessary for obvious reasons - whether or not it “should” be avoided is, IMHO, irrelevant because we will naturally seek to avoid pain whenever possible - we are motivated by the pain/pleasure axis.

I think we should try to eliminate the substrates of pain while preserving the functional equivalent of aversive experience…

Pain itself is just nasty and ‘soul-destroying’ and there is nothing to be learned in the ultimate sense - there is only the pleasure and pain axis in it’s myriad forms~

Therefore the only choice is to eliminate pain through manipulation of our biological processes - keeping in mind that our genetic design (anhedonic homeostasis) is the ultimate barrier to sustained states of consciousness more beautiful and satisfying than anything currently imaginable.

Another uninformed opinion, but it seems to me that the pain Atlanta is referring to is mind generated pain. This is a sweeping generalization, but it would appear that pain is the result of unfullfilled expectations. Our mind tells us that we want, we need, we deserve, and when these things are less than our expectations, there is the pain of disappointment.

I would venture that this kind of pain can only be experienced if I fail to understand all potential consequences connected to my expectations. Pain does not exist as a ‘thing’ or even a ‘process’ outside of my mind. I create my own pain. It would follow that life is to simply be lived, and that having pain is the reward of living life as life - full of expectations that may or not be met.


If a human could choose not to have any expectations they would not suffer?

We suffer because we fail to see to the full consequences of desires?
If we were able to (theoretically) see the full consequences would we no longer have expectations?

Having expectations is a function of the mind - it’s designed that way. The mind is also designed to work within a limited arena of knowledge.

Seeking to understand consequences may help to sublimate the pain of unmet desires, but it simply doesn’t eliminate suffering - the Buddhists have been trying this for centuries.

It’s time that we stop rationalizing suffering and get to work changing our genetic design - it is the true key to fundamentally improving our experience.

If a human could choose not to have any expectations they would not suffer?

We suffer because we fail to see to the full consequences of desires?
If we were able to (theoretically) see the full consequences would we no longer have expectations?

Having expectations is a function of the mind - it’s designed that way. The mind is also designed to work within a limited arena of knowledge.

Seeking to understand consequences may help to sublimate the pain of unmet desires, but it simply doesn’t eliminate suffering - the Buddhists have been trying this for centuries.

It’s time that we stop rationalizing suffering and get to work changing our genetic design - it is the true key to fundamentally improving our experience.

Okay, I’ve been kicking around an idea for a while, and I wanted to put it forward here.
The idea is that suffering is the basic currency of humanity.
What I mean by this is that the experience of suffering and the ability to appreciate the suffering of others are the key elements in human social interaction.
When I say suffering, sometimes that means physical pain. I saw an interesting doentary on PBS called “The Mind”, and one chapter had a young girl who was in a cast, but was still running around as if uninjured, always laughing. We are told that this small child had a rare neurological condition that did not allow her to experience pain. This may sound like heaven, but this came with a heavy price, or rather heavy prices. The girl healed very slowly, for two reasons. The first and more obvious is that she did not allow herself to heal, because of lack of pain she kept agitating the injury, for example running on her broken leg. The second reason was that no pain also meant that her psychoneuroimmunological system was not activated, i.e., her brain didn’t know to send the help her system needed. Even worse, the girl would be very lucky to survive into her early twenties; the record for someone with her condition was 29.
I mentioned her here because of her social interactions. While she was very prone to harm herself, having had no pain to teach her what not to do, she was equally prone to harming others. She would poke someone’s eye and laugh. She very simply had no sympathy for others. She felt no pain, therefore could not understand the concept, even when applied to those who felt it. It is like the concept of chartreuse to the congenitally blind.
There are of course other kinds of suffering, and while I do not wish to minimize them, in the interest of brevity I am going to the next part.
The ability to appreciate the experience of suffering in others, Sympathy (NB I chose Sympathy rather than Empathy because of the shared suffering implicit in the idea), is noticeably lacking in certain psychological disorders, notably in Narcissists and Sociopaths. The Narcissist do notice but tend to minimize the sufferings of others as insignificant next to their own. The Sociopaths can only realize the suffering of others as an alien abstraction, never as a real thing. Both Narcissists and Sociopaths tend to treat other people as mere objects, only present to serve whatever they (i.e. the Narcissist or Sociopath) want or need.
So, again, it is my view that suffering is the basic currency of humanity. Without it, we do not see that others are our equals, our brothers and sisters.
I saw in another thread on this forum, others were talking of having difficult childhoods, and I will admit that I, too, had a difficult childhood. And I believe that this has made us more fully aware of our humanity, and the humanity of others. Nietzsche’s oft quoted maxim goes well here. I think of the biographies that I have read of creative, caring people whose numbers are legion, who endured childhood suffering. And that Buddha had to learn suffering before he could find enlightenment. And of course we all know about Jesus.

(NB This is a reprint of one of my post from another forum. I thought it apropos here, so why reinvent the wheel!)

taken from the Hedonistic Imperative;

"4.22 Genetically pre-programmed euphoria would undermine the basis of all human relationships. All this fancy verbal window-dressing about combining perpetual ecstasy with love, empathy, beauty etc is only superficial. Say, for example, some terrible physical misfortune overtakes a friend; after all, accidents can happen in even the best-run utopias. One will still be ecstatically happy: love for one’s friend may indeed feel intense; but it is completely shallow if one can’t grieve for a tragedy that befalls her."

By hypothesis, one’s friend will be incapable of suffering; however badly mangled his or her body. Indeed (s)he will still be happy, albeit, we shall assume here, less intensely than before. Perhaps some of her favourite pleasure-cells are damaged. Let us also assume, in this scenario, that the molecular substrates of volition have long since been identified and toned up. One has chosen to blend the biochemical substrates of pleasure with those of dopaminergic “incentive” motivation rather than blissed-out satiety. If this is the case, then one will strive with all one’s prodigiously augmented will-power to find means to restore one’s friend to a state of maximal well-being. One will try far harder in dopaminergic overdrive than would be psychophysiologically possible if one were stuck in one’s current comparatively weak-willed and ineffectual state. Thus a life of unremitting happiness doesn’t entail that friendship is shallow or inauthentic; on the contrary, one will have the motivational resources to express depth of personal commitment all the more.

    This is not to say that relationships won't change in many different ways after the Transition occurs. At present, for example, friendship often consists of offering mutual support in times of hardship and despair. In future, it may consist of a shared celebration of life."

It’s true that the design of our ‘understanding systems’ will need to be changed. For if others no longer feel pain - then it will do no good to identify with a pain that doesn’t exist - empathy will no longer be required. Instead we’ll be motivated by bliss to do whatever is valued at the time.

It’s true that the quest to end pain in it’s most intense and persistent forms is indeed a noble cause, one that in fact that I myself share with you. But pain itself is a very useful thing and ending it entirely is, to put it mildly, problematic. A couple of my concerns:

  1. Pain is useful, in many ways:
    a What keeps me from repeating stupid things and accidents, such as walking recklessly, if there is no pain to remind me not too?
    b If I get sick, say a ruptured appendix or angina pectoris, what is going to send me to seek medical care?

  2. Pain is in some ways enjoyable:
    a Pain is used as an associate to flavor. The sensation of “spicy” is in fact mild, and to some such as myself, enjoyable pain. No pain, would I cease to enjoy pepper on my food, would the Thai Restaurant industry cease to exist.
    b And don’t get me started on spankings! (You know what I’m talking about!) :wink:

Anyway, pain has in most cases a useful and constructive role. Ending it would seem to cause more problems than are solved, and in some curious ways diminish pleasure.

The motivational systems of current will be changed so that we are still informationally sensitive (where relevant) without being caught in the pain/pleasure axis. Humans at some point in the future may be motivated by gradients of pleasure.

It isn’t the pain itself that is enjoyable.

We would like to think pain is in our best interest (seeing as how we are bound to the pain/pleasure axis) - but when pain is trully optional, while the functional equivalents of aversive experience remain - pain will clearly be delineated as excess baggage.

We would die off if pain were suddenly eliminated without the neccessary accompanying changes in genetic design. But this is not the way to eliminate all sentient suffering.

taken from the Hedonistic Imperative FAQ;

4.0 “Happy experiences, and the very concept of happiness itself, are possible only because they can be contrasted with melancholy. The very notion of everlasting happiness is incoherent.”

Some people endure lifelong emotional depression or physical pain. Quite literally, they are never happy. Understandably, they may blame their misery on the very nature of the world, not just their personal clinical condition. Yet it would be a cruel doctrine which pretended that such people don’t really suffer because they can’t contrast their sense of desolation with joyful memories. In the grips of despair, they may find the very notion of happiness cognitively meaningless. Conversely, the euphoria of unmixed (hypo)mania is not dependent for its sparkle on recollections of misery. Given the state-dependence of memory, negative emotions may simply be inaccessible to consciousness in such an exalted state. Likewise, it is possible that our perpetually euphoric descendants will find our contrastive notion of unhappiness quite literally inconceivable. For when one is extraordinarily super-well, then it’s hard to imagine what it might be like to be chronically mentally ill.

    Here's a contemporary parallel. It's possible to undergo, from a variety of causes, a complete bilateral loss of primary, secondary and "associative" visual cortex. People with Anton's Syndrome not only become blind; they are unaware of their sensory deficit. Furthermore, they lose all notion of the meaning of sight. They no longer possess the neurological substrates of the visual concepts by which their past and present condition could be compared and contrasted. Our genetically joyful descendants may, or may not, undergo an analogous loss of cognitive access to the nature and variant textures of suffering. Quite plausibly, they will have gradients of sublimity to animate their lives and infuse their thoughts. So at least they'll be able to make analogies and draw parallels. But fortunately for their sanity and well-being, they won't be able to grasp the true frightfulness lying behind any linguistic remnants of the past that survive into the post-Darwinian era. Such lack of contrast, or even the inconceivability of unpleasant experiences, won't leave tomorrow's native-born ecstatics any less happy; if anything quite the reverse.

    It's true that a world whose agents are animated by pleasure gradients will still have the functional equivalent of aversive experience. Yet the "raw feel" of such states may still be more wonderful than anything physiologically possible today.


Ineresting ideas, I gotta mull over them a bit.
Coupla questions first, though.
The minor one first:

I find the pain sensation in both instances to be frankly enjoyable. If not pain, what is enjoyable, then?

Second question: Is there any research that directly supports this speculation?


i chose the “imbrace and avoid” kind of option because:
Emotion is information that i process with logic.

I dont want to be afraid of it, i want to understand it’s source, then solve the problems that are harming my mind and body.

Pinhead was an ideot, like so many others, who live for thrills because their life has no love and no meaning.

There are things above pleasure, pain and even thought!
Dont forget that!

The pain may lead to pleasurable effects (I enjoy spicy foods too) but strictly speaking - there are ways to get these pleasurable effects without the pain. The pain associated with spicy foods leads to an endorphin release. … /_559.html


Okay, you answered my first question, but my second one still stands:
Is there any research that directly supports this speculation?
(Preferably from a peer reviewed journal of psychology, neurology, medicine, or public health. Come to think of it, I believe there is one titled “Pain”, that would be a good one.)

Let me make sure I understand what you are asking. You are looking for research that supports which speculation?

Well, I guess my views on the matter have already been expressed elsewhere but, given the re-emergence of the topic, I can only repeat them here. :unamused:

For me the fundamental connection between Suffering – of which Pain is an extreme case of – and Need is an obvious one.

Life being in a constant state of effort, resisting deterioration and its own end, and the state of being unable to completely deny or avoid death – life being the condition of constant dying and so being defined by death – and life being, also, the state of constantly striving towards completion – the seeking of finality or totality or stability(Becoming) - it finds itself in a constant state of Need.

In fact Need and Life can be seen as synonymous concepts since one presupposes the other, while suffering becomes the mental interpretation of this condition.

In this context Pleasure becomes the momentary release from the awareness of Need, either through inebriation or distraction.
The brain is flooded with chemicals to cloud its perceptions enough to experience the release from its own role of interpreting Need and finding ways of avoiding, providing or plannning for it.

The minds ability to project itself into artificial environments into the past or future, using the imagination, makes it possible for pleasure to be experienced using these methods of avoidance of Reality.

Pleasures ephemeral nature makes it a motivating factor in behavior.
Release from Need - Death being the only real complete release since it ends consciousness which translates the Universal flux and attempts to resist it – is always temporary and rare enough to become a mythological concept, finding expression through religious and spiritual dogmas or finding expression through an addiction to it, which makes the behavioral manipulation of each conscious mind using pain (threat) and pleasure (promise), an easy affair.

In our modern western world pleasure, as an escape from all forms of discomfort, has been glorified and made accessible to all, thusly making any slight usage of suffering and pain an intolerable controlling device.

This living as Need is interpreted by consciousness as suffering when it reaches a certain level of discomfort, remaining unperceivable when it does not, yet not entirely absent since Life is dependant on constant action, requiring constant energy and effort and care.

When left unsatisfied, Need builds up in volume until it reaches the degrees of discomfort the mind labels suffering and/or pain.

Needs constancy is proven by the fact that nature has created ingenuous methods of feeding it, in the cases where the object of Desire – Desire being Need focused upon a specific object – is not readily available.
Food, in more natural conditions is not easily accessible so storage areas within the body had to evolve in order to maintain a living organism and make it mobile enough to fend for itself, whereas the need for oxygen is easily accessible and no storage is required, in the human species at least.
The concept of Want enters as a diversion to Need, or a nexus of multiple Needs.
We want things becomes they serve multiple Needs even if indirectly.
The Need behind a Want might not be always obvious or direct but it is never absent.

The level to which a Need becomes discernable or uncomfortable is determined by the minds experience with the particular Need or with Need in general or determined by the minds acuity and sensitivity.

Asceticism is one of those practices that builds habituation with Need and Suffering and like its physical counterpart exercise (the Greeks had one word to express both – askisis) it builds resistance and tolerance to both and so makes comfort more attainable.
Pushed to the extreme asceticism is the denial of Need and so of Life.
Yet extreme asceticism is hypocritical since it is always partial. Some Needs will always be fed if Life is to continue.
Absolute asceticism is synonymous with Death and so it has been used by some as a way of consciously approaching the experience of Death, without foregoing the Life upon which consciousness is dependant.
In its moderate forms asceticism is used to increase the potential for contentment by raising the tolerance levels to suffering.

For instance a well fed individual will find any prolonged absence of nutrition as being excruciatingly uncomfortable, whereas an individual brought up in more austere environments will have a different tolerance to the absence.
Put in similar environments the first might experience discomfort while the second feels contented.

In a similar manner pain is a matter of habituation.
We all feel pain, as an affront to our well-being, a natural mechanism that alerts us to invasions or threats.
Yet our past experiences determine which levels of discomfort become intolerable and much too painful and which are easily ignored.

So it is true that pain is a matter of perspective and experience.

In the case where pain becomes something that is desirable or which causes sexual arousal, the reasons must be sought in psychology and in each individuals past.

In some cases pain, being an extreme expression of Need and so a characteristic of life, becomes desirable as a way of feeling alive, due to some experience(s) which have raised the tolerance levels to such an extent as to make anything beneath them inadequate or as a way of overcoming some numbing, self-preservation mechanism the mind uses to survive extreme conditions.

In these cases pain becomes desirable due to its association with the experience of living and so it becomes invigorating and exciting.

The reverse effect is that caused by pampering. Here the mind is so unused to suffering that any degree of it causes distress and intolerance.

But I’m only guessing… :laughing: