There was an article in yesteday’s New York Times that caught my attention. It was entitled: “If ‘Pain Is an Opinion,’ There Are Ways to Change Your Mind.” The basic point of the article was that pain is not something communicated to our brains by “pain nerves” or some other specific source, but rather something that originates in our brain.
“All pain is real, no matter what is causing it. But also, all pain is made by the brain in response to the information available to it.” ~ Lorimer Moseley, University of Australia
Now, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so I can’t speak to the medical validity of the above statement, but I did find it interesting. The article went on to talk about things that can make pain better, one of which is love.
“A study published in Pain Medicine found that people who spend a greater portion of their day thinking about a romantic partner experience more pain reduction when viewing pictures of that partner than those less preoccupied with their partner. Other studies show that pain is reduced when partners hold hands” ~ New York Times article
I love (no pun intended) the idea that love can help reduce pain. It also makes me wonder whether reading about love (or watching a romantic movie) could have a similar impact. If relaxing, controlling our thoughts, and achieving a sense of calm can all contribute to reduced levels of pain, then I’m thinking romance novels belong in everyone’s pain-arsenal. Relaxed and calm is just how happily-ever-afters make me feel.
I’ve already found that reading and movies can be great stress relievers – well, maybe not thrillers – so why can’t they be pain relievers as well?
Next time I’m in pain I’ll have to pick up a book and see if that helps. If nothing else, it could be a way to reduce the size of my TBR pile. 🙂
So, what do you think?
I totally think an engrossing book helps with the pain of existence. It’s easy to ignore a lot when you are in a good book — emotional pain, some physical pain, sleepiness, hunger and even the need to pee (although, a book is often a friend in the bathroom, too).
A good book can help us process old and new pains, too, I think. Even a bad book . . . I remember reading a series that helped me process some childhood memories. I used to re-read that series every year for . . . it must have been about ten years! And then suddenly, I must have processed things, because I no longer needed the books. I’m still very grateful for them.
I’m reluctant to say reading a good book will help one through the pain of recovering from surgery. I have heard many people say it’s impossible to read during a bad headache. But yeah, for some sorts of pain, it really is a palliative.
You’re absolutely right, Michaeline, it is easy to ignore a lot when you are in a good book. I like your comment about books helping process old and new pains; that’s something I hadn’t really thought about, but it makes good sense.
In one of those “who reads romance novels” surveys, the data showed that of the men who read romance, most were either incarcerated or suffered from cancer. I bet the combination of characters working through their problems and the certainty of a happy ending was a big comfort.
Well that explains why romance writers so often mention getting letters from prisoners 🙂
I grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional household (because I’m a human) and I totally used books as a buffer against reality as a child. As an adult, sadly, I’ve found that deep grief renders me unable to read. If I’m really sad I just can’t focus well enough to stay in a story.
I don’t know that I’ve ever tried it with physical pain. I’m kind of a wallower, so probably not!
Well, sometimes you just can’t beat a good wallow 🙂
As the reading for pain-relief I’m now picturing a doctor with his prescription pad: “Read Lord of Scoundrels and The Grand Sophy and call me in the morning.”