Do Americans suffer pain more than others?
My daughter-in-law posed an interesting question the other day. “Why do Americans have such a lower threshold of pain than other countries?” We might at first argue the point and say the question doesn’t make sense. Americans are like anyone else and experience pain the same way any other human experiences pain.
While the statement appears true, we all have the same sensory nerves and brain matter that tells us when have pain. We all experience heat, cold, the sensation of sharp, dull, pressure. Yet, Americans take more pain medication than the rest of the world combined despite the fact we comprise only 5% of the world’s population. Does that mean we sense pain differently? Does it mean we are candies and whine and whimper too much? Does it mean we just have easier access to something that relieves us of pain and everyone else would do the same if they had equal access?
Does anyone know?
It is a good question my daughter-in-law posed. I’m not sure anyone has the right answer. Maybe it’s all of the above. Certain people in Europe can obtain medicines equal in strength to the medications we use, yet they don’t for some reason. Many tribes and primitive people have opiates readily available to them in raw form that they use as ceremonial drugs to bring them to ritual ecstasy. But they don’t take them to relieve pain.
Why do we go to the medicine cabinet when we have a headache or a muscle ache or joint pain or any other ache or pain that causes us discomfort? Why do we reach for the remedy in a plastic bottle with a child-proof cap while the rest of the world just suffers through the ailment? What would it take to toughen us up? Should we toughen up?
Pain is a good thing!
Pain is sometimes a good thing. Ask a leper and they will tell you how good pain is, because they have lost all sense of pain. Consequently, a leper will lose toes, finger, ears, nose, and other body parts to injury and subsequent infection because he never feels the pain associated with the injury. Pain is our friend many times. So why do we wish it away in America? Why so intolerant?
Perhaps we will never know. Perhaps our intolerance for pain in this country is one of those unfathomable mysteries that will only be answered at the end of time when we can look back over all of history with all other people for eternity and compare notes with each other. Until then, we can only ask the question. If you have an answer, let me know. My daughter-in-law and I are curious.