The Scouring of Pain

How long must someone have depression to begin to think it is normal?


In mythology, Narcissus, the child of a moving river, was a boy who fell in love with his own image in the reflection in water. This event happens after Narcissus has loved an earlier reflection of Echo, a nymph who becomes voice only after excusing a major flaw, adultery, in a god she relates to closely. Echo, who prefers coverups, leads Narcissus to adopt a remake over his own reality. The imagery is powerful. Neither the individual nor the voice are real, whole individuals. What does this have to do with pain?

Psychiatrists use the term “narcisstic” to describe someone who is trying very hard to be an image, drawn by someone for them. Who drew this image. In narcissism, it is usually the parents, who wished to mold the child into something that would recommend them. This is the “utilitarian” view of children, as someone who can reflect well on the parents.

The child learns to behave as or become the person whose image is drawn. The child then begins to feel that the real them is not good enough. They must be someone or something else, someone more acceptable to the parent. They begin to mourn the death of themselves. This leads to depression.

With severe CP, the severe pain scours out the identity. What is left is as much a reflection of the pain as it is the real individual. Of course, like anyone else, the pain subject mourns the loss of their true identity. This leads to depression. It is not pathologic, in the sense that it is not neurotic. Neuroticism is not necessarily inappropriate. Conditions can beceome unbearable. That is often one of the goals of torture, under the assumption that people have a breaking point.

Severe chronic pain produces many of the same stresses. Almost everyone with severe pain begins to question themselves, to accept some of the blame, to doubt the integrity of his or her thoughts. Prolonged sleep loss creates the same illusion and paranoia. Severe constant pain has its effect, always. The question is how deep it goes. We want to remember ourselves and be ourselves, but that is not possible in the grip of severe pain.

And so, in addition to the depressing impact of pain, there is an additive depression from loss of the self. Some of the very most depressed people on earth are those with severe chronic pain. This does not mean they are psychotic or deluded. The mental state is not the cause of the pain, it is rather the result. The bravest of the brave will encounter this eventually with endless severe pain, no exceptions. Severe pain can take anyone into a very depressed state of mind, where they are in danger. With pain that is very long lasting, the illness atate may become so famliiar that the subject may not be aware they are depressed. The familiar mental state is taken for a one to one consequence of pain, whereas it is mostly the pain and depression speaking, not the heart and soul.

It is important if you find yourself in this state to recognize the depression and to get professional help. The antidepressants may be in order. The supposed improvement in pain may merely be the lifting of depression, but this may be very important for survival. Get help. Most people cannot deal with severe depression on their own. Even if the professional merely points out ideas which are the product of depression rather than being real, the person can benefit from help. Do not neglect this important part of dealing with pain.

Wholesome pleasures, which maintain self respect are essential to dealing with pain. Those who resort to alcohol and drugs find they now have an extra problem to deal with rather than a solution. Although some of the pleasure seeking may seem a bit self indulgent, it is extraordinarily important to include some pleasurable activity in every day.

This may be as simple as reading a book, visiting a store, talking with friends, viewing scenery, touring a museum or art gallery, or whatever. You are critically ill with pain, and need a little injection of pleasure into life to help combat it. The challenge is to find pleasure which does not degrade, lessen, or add to the sense that the self has been abandoned or degraded. Positive pleasure requires some planning and thought, but it is rehabilitation nevertheless. Those who disparage pain may well also regard the pleasure as decadent or lazy, but they do not understand. Knocking you out with sedation is one approach, but sometimes positive pleasures can be very valuable.