The Need to Disapprove

Here we comment on a peculiar tendency of humans and what it means for central pain.

Arthur Miller has died. He was well known for “The Crucible” which recounted the era of the Salem witch trials. That time reminds us that what passes for religion can be turned into wrong if self aggrandizement and ignorance are combined. Why do we impute religious inferiority to those whom we have marginalized. This is dangerous ground.

Carl Jung commented that much of institutionalized religion seems to be about setting up rules which make it imposssible to practice true religious principles. Too much is about distinguishing US from THEM. People who know one another as perfectly good individuals are willing to conduct furious debates, sometimes leading to violence over arcane distinctions that most lack even the rudiments to understand. Some would rather be right than do right.

True religion has been described as this, “To remember the widows, the orphans, and the afflicted.”. Both the Bible and the Q’uran have passages to this effect. This has nothing to do with minute doctrinal arguments over points which raise the fury of one religionist against another. Tolerance is not enough seen in many areas of life. We do not, as both Buddha and Confucius advised, liken ourselves to others.

Why all the fury over what is considered religion, but has no charitable roots? What should be the tamest and most tolerant field of controversy is sometimes the most bitter. Karen Armstrong has written recently that religion is just no fun unless we get to disapprove of people. Some people had rather not even go to heaven if they can’t stand up on the parapets, watching the wicked below suffer a just punishment. Of course, there is enough bad in all of us to assure us the parapet tour is not going to happen.

Yet, the pride of humans, a universal weakness, delights in feeling favored, superior, and settled in correctness. Pridx delights in some sort of moral competition with others, rather than a competition with self for betterment and unfeigned love. Most of all, we are very suspicious of anyone who is different. When it comes to central pain, it is not, “The Gods Must be Crazy”. It is “Those in pain must be crazy.” The sweep of our thoughts at any given time is commony mistkaen for what is known. The mind tends to be fairly brittle, and in danger of flying to pieces when a stretching is called for. The VR-1 channel is a very big stretch for most.*

And so we come to the reactions to central pain. Says the skeptic, “What kind of wickedness must surely inhabit the bodies of anyone whom the Divine allows to suffer endlessly. What kind of creatures are these whom life has required to sacrifice everything? I will not say they have obtained knowledge that I myself do not have, for that would imply that I myself might need undergo such suffering as I am unwilling to endure. Instead, I will say that THEY had need of some knowledge. There must have been a rough corner that needed to be knocked off.”

This “I am myself so smooth” attitude is very similar to the imagined view from the parapet. Endless burning pain. Yep. That’s it. I know it when I see it. These people are WICKED, or at least conspicuously guilty of something, probably a weakness of a religious nature. See how the odd ones retreat. Surely exaggeration would appear if one looked carefully, exactingly. Some of them cannot even stand to wear clothes. Their words do not make sense. Their pain does not respond to the medicines which relieve MY pain and should relieve any NORMAL person’s pain. No doubt about it. THESE PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT! (and very suspicious with their ion channel mumbo jumbo). You say their neurons are drowning in acids? Why aren’t they crying then?

Thus, we have the flood of pejorative language against Central Pain. Even some pseudoexperts declaim on the weakness, the misaligned thought process, and the psychological disturbance which must surely lie behind our PERCEPTION that we are in pain. Of course, their conclusion that those with central pain have mental weaknesses. fears. and dysfunctions is unarguably true, since it is the universal condition of humankind. What is missing from their analysis is that they also have these same problems, in measure equal to those with Central Pain. As the founder of this database, Dr. Patrick Wall, declared, “We should not theologize pain, since it hurts research. If we reduce an illness to theological terms, it takes away the drive to cure it.” He was talking about parapet religion.

If you are having a bit of a problem with others who are just a little suspicious about this big bad disease you claim to have, try not to do a reverse snobbery bit. Do not hope for the day when you can sit atop a parapet watching God give them a dose of their own medicine, burning in pain for their indifference, their judgment, and their narrow mindedness. After all, Central Pain should have taught you something, that empathy is mandatory.

Instead, realize that central pain is very bizarre for a generation which knows so little of brain science (and is often creeped out by it) and very much more severe than the public is prepared to accept. CP will come and go, abolished by the researchers who have seen it in little innocent lab animals, to whom they have given the condition in order to study it. It is never necessary to tell a PhD pain researcher that nerve injury pain is real. They can produce it on a moment’s notice. If they are biochemists they can measure the pain producing chemicals which accumuolate at the dorsal root ganglion, in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord,in the ventral complex of the thalamus, and in the insular cortex.

The chemist can “fly a kite with a key attached” as it were, and watch the fiery acids accumulate which mean agony in the pain system. The pain acids and ion channels which open to make it all happen are as real to them as protons and electrons are to a partical physicist. although neither chemist nor physicist has ever seen that which they study. The important thing is to retain your integrity and your generous opinion of others, even when tney are unable to show much nobility in the way they relate to you. Return good for evil. Be skillful in your emotions, where others are unskilled in their emotions toward you. School your feelings.

In non-parapet religion, God wants men to learn to help each other, to solve and cure disease, sorrow, and pain. Those who are content to declare God’s hand in the suffering of those with CP, without doing more, are using His name in vain. There was much suffering in the Dark Ages and into Medieval times, with no good medicine. They invented asceticism to deal with it all. We are not Medieval any longer, and know that misery yields to effort. True religion is about moving from the parapet to the laboratory and doing some practical good.


For more on this, see Karen Armstrong. The Spiral Staircase

*Hyperflow in the VR-1 Ca2+ channel (also known as the TRPV-1) causes the burning sensation of CP. When RTX holds the VR-1 open, the flow melts the wall of the neuron and the mitochondria, killing the cell in seconds, and ending the capability of sensing neuropathic pain. CP deals with the VR-1 channel which is partially overfunctioning, due to pain kinases and fatty acids. The CP subject, whose nerves are injured, feels the acids as burning., Other pain sensations are activated along with the burning, creating a bizarre mix of pains. CP is the most severe pain state known to man. It can be predictably created by making lesions in the central nervous system of animals, who develop CP which has the same features of pain from light touch, thermal change. or movement.