The Incredible Single Mindedness of Central Pain

In a world where trendiness, fame, and fortune preoccupy the minds of so many, there is a group for which only one thing is of value, pain relief.


Guidance counseling today does not even wait for high school. Hardly a middle-school or junior high does not take the matter seriously. By the time high school roles around, the student is made to feel they are competing on a global scale in an economy which seems to be moving to the Indians and Chinese.

Government sponsored clubs provide free trips and lectures to encourage more girls to go into the sciences. Boys are reminded of their coming obligations. A psychiatric study reported that boys in high school worry more about their choice of careers than they worry about sports or girls. In fact, seventy percent of all worries reported by monitored boys concerned their choice of careers.

When college arrives, except for the minority who refuse to play the game and chose instead to focus on beer or drug consumption, the competition only gets greater. Schools are charging a king’s ransom just for tuition. Imagine parents paying out forty thousand dollars a year for an undergraduate degree in such majors as General Studies, American Studies, or even Psychology. The message is that you must be all that you can be.

To be sure, a number of students are tuning out, turning off, and dropping out, but for the mainstream there has never been a generation more serious about rampant consumerism and the inexhorable lemming rush toward yuppiehood and the million dollar house, landscaped and maided by undocumented workers.

Television advertising reminds us we must beware of knockoff products, nevermind that it is knockoffs of things we don’t even need. The right car, the right hairdo, the right perfume, the right MP3 player, the right everything.

Now in the midst of all this self conscious self promotion and perfecting of the self, one group emerges as caring not a fig for any of it. They are so tuned out, turned off, and dropped out, that they make the garden variety slacker look socially involved and committed. This group does not care how they are dressed, so long as the clothing does not burn. They are not out to impress anyone, and are not impressed BY anyone. If Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johanssen walked by, their thoughts would still remain pretty much in place. Ambition, distinction, attractiveness, international politics, perhaps even goodness and virtue are whispers in the psyche. By comparison there is a deafening roar in the mind which takes up virtually all available space in the consciousness. The domination of thought can pretty much be compared to the message of hunger in the starving. Sense can be made of the noise, It says, “How can I get free of the pain?”

For what has long been recognized as the most severe pain state known to man, it should not be so surprising that CP patients feel this way. They are very much occupied, you see, and do not have the energy to reply as to “How it’s going” nor “How they are today”. The honest answer of course would be an obscenity, so why bother. And even the most hardened druggie would come off an amateur in preoccupation with “where my drugs are coming from”, because severe PAIN is so much more powerful a motivator than mere addiction. The constant and overarching dependence on pain medicines makes the addict in rehab look nearly cured. The druggie receives some pleasure, perhaps, from the drug. The subject with Central Pain does not. A tiny morsel of relief from agonizing burning pain measures bigger than any “high”.

Some see the world as big, and have wide interests. For some, even the entire world is not enough and their minds must reach to the universe to feel that anything worthwhile has been contemplated. Then, there is this other group. They really cannot be located on the bell shaped curve of human interest, because there is not enough room for them to maneuver mentally.

Narrow hardly describes their range of motivating interests. The line of focus practically has no dimension. They are a singularity of single mindedness. Nothing comes out. Not unlike anesthesia their minds are encased in a pain induced coma. They may talk and walk, or at least roll, but the only thing at home is the pain inside. Their suffering allows no other real interest. After all, they are the pain, and the pain is them. If they tried to make it otherwise, they would collapse in helpless depression They are in a fight to the end, with a terrible foe. No time for living. No time for reflection. Only time to struggle.

You had best leave them alone unless you have a cure, a real cure. Don’t ask for some of their karma to greet you, to acknowledge you, to befriend you. They couldn’t care less about what you care about. They would not give their right arm for a date with Jessica Simpson nor an afternoon with David Beckham. They are trying to endure to the end. That is their passion. That is what remains of them. Are they alive? Emotionally “NO” is the answer for many of them.

If you really want to relate, send a letter to the National Institutes of Health and remind them that it personally troubles you that human beings must suffer so in this day and age, in this great country. Tell them you are offended by a living Auschwitz of pain where little is done or said to assist these folks.

Yes, the sainted PhD’s who do pain research are well aware of the problem, but sometime, somewhere, you yourself might just be asked if you paid attention to others, particularly those who were ill or afflicted. If you hope to be able to answer “yes”, you might just do a little for those with central pain, even if it involves nothing more than a piece of paper, a line or two, and a stamp. Or, you could just move on past at the other side of the road. The Good Samaritan will be along any minute now, and you have things to do, places to go, and people to see.