When I teach that “pain involves the brain,” people often feel that I’m saying that it’s their fault. That’s really not what I am saying.
I like to talk about the mind, the brain, and the body. The mind is our consciousness, our awareness, our sense of self. The brain is in between the mind and the body. Pain is an output from the nervous system, not an input.
The brain can make mistakes.
It gets into habits or reflexes.
Evolution has taught us to respond to the threat of danger very, very quickly, and sometimes in those quick responses, we go down fixed, hard-wired, old patterns that are hard to break out of.
But, and this is the important bit, reflexes and habits are responsive to new learning; we can learn to respond differently.
There’s no one answer to pain. For me that’s very exciting, but it can feel overwhelming and confusing. It implies that creativity, learning to do things differently, is possible…
In my book, ‘Pain Is Really Strange’ I answer questions such as ‘how can I change my pain experience?’, ‘what is pain?’, and ‘how do nerves work?’. It’s a short research-based graphic book which reveals just how strange pain is and explains how understanding it is often the key to relieving its effects.