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Do we need pain?

  1. Dec 9, 2004 #1
    As suggested, I try asking this question in the biology forum.

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=45269

    I know that there are different pathways in the brain for pleasure and pain. But at some point these must connect in order to make a decision. So from a biological point of view, is it possible to avoid the feeling of pain? Or would any kind of diminishing of reward feel as pain for a higher form of life? Or if possible to have a system based only on pleasure, would this be inferior to a system based both on pleasure and pain?
     
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  3. Dec 9, 2004 #2

    iansmith

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    What kind of pain are you talking about? Emotional or physical?

    the answer is probably going to be different

    Physical pain is a must. Without pain you cannot react to harmfull situation. How are you suppose to know if your body is in danger and substainning damage.

    The same could be said for emotional pain. Is emotional pain part of socialogical learning?
     
  4. Dec 9, 2004 #3
    But could physical pain be replaced by diminished pleaure, is one supposes that the normal everyday level would be intense pleasre? So physical damage would at worst be signaled by the feeling most of us today feel in everyday life.
     
  5. Dec 9, 2004 #4

    loseyourname

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    There is a neurological disorder known as "Congenital Insensitivity to Pain." Sufferers never adjust posture and so cripple their limbs. They often burn themselves, bite their tongues, break their toes by walking into things. It is not a pleasant condition.

    Congenital Insensitivity to Pain
     
  6. Dec 9, 2004 #5
    Yes, but those people have no system at all for reacting to physical damage. The question is wether a system could be designed where for example less pleasure or pure reflexes without feeling take the place of pain.
     
  7. Dec 9, 2004 #6

    iansmith

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    Then the question would be if there is any advantage to fell less pain and more pleasure and would it be select for in any type of way.
     
  8. Dec 9, 2004 #7

    chroot

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    So, Aquamarine, you are advocating a system that ranges from neutrality to euphoria in place of the existing system which ranges from horrific pain to euphoria.

    What's to say people wouldn't then experience neutrality with the same discomfort that they now experience horrific pain? Wouldn't "neutrality" just become the new "horrific pain?" It's all a matter of perception, after all.

    - Warren
     
  9. Dec 9, 2004 #8
    That sounds like my original question. :smile:

    Using that argument, chronic pain or mental anguish is largely uninteresting since people would adapt and stop feeling the pain after a while. Necessarily, all people would are always equally happy regardless of conditions, if these change slowly. But the evidence is that people never adapt and are constantly feeling misery from constant pain.
     
  10. Dec 9, 2004 #9

    loseyourname

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    There are a variety of ways in which evolution can solve any given problem. We could have been endowed with prehensile mandibles rather than opposable thumbs, for instance. Bats could use night vision instead of echolocation. It is dubious to call any of these systems "designed" as they stand, so assuming you're question is whether or not we as humans can design such a modification to human pain perception: in principle, it's possible. In practice, who knows? We certainly can't do it right now. What we can do is give a person the drug ecstasy, which suppresses all feeling of pain while simultaneously heightening feelings of pleasure. All I can say is that this system doesn't seem to currently have the ability to produce properly functioning human beings.
     
  11. Dec 10, 2004 #10

    Moonbear

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    The natural response to pain is avoidance. In a "neutral" situation, there would be no particular drive toward avoidance or attraction. The avoidance response to pain is essential to preventing further injury, either through not coming into contact with something injurious (i.e., the hot stove), or through avoiding use of an injured limb until it has healed. This becomes very obvious when dealing with veterinary medicine. An animal that is given sufficient pain killers after an injury to not feel pain, or too mild of pain, is likely to continue trying to use the injured limb and make it worse. You have to give just enough painkillers to take the worst of the pain away so they continue to eat, but so they still feel the injury enough to be a bit guarded about how they move or behave to keep from making it worse.

    Even people tend to overdo things when healing from an injury when the pain starts to subside. Think about that time following surgery when the bad pain goes away but the wound is still healing and dependent upon stitches to keep it together, and how many people start trying to do normal activities against medical advice because it doesn't hurt anymore, and wind up popping stitches and causing more trouble.
     
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