Sometimes pain gets stuck in our bodies when it doesn’t need to. Our brains try to protect us by telling us we are in pain, but sometimes the protection feels far worse than the action or stimulus we are being protected from. I’ve been reading and researching a lot on this mind/body connection, and here are a few resources for understanding how we can stop pain loops once they begin:
The Brain’s Addiction to Dramatizing Pain
According to this 2017 article from the New York Times:
“The brain becomes addicted to dramatizing pain … and the more you feed it, the stronger the addiction. So don’t dwell on the pain, and don’t try to fix it — no props, no pills. Eventually, the mind should let go.”
Stop Pain Loops
This TEDx talk by Professor Lorimer Moseley explains how pain loops get set up in our brain even when we aren’t in danger of reliving the initial painful event.
And this episode of Invisibilia deals with treatment of chronic pain. As the producers note:
“The treatment we explore in this episode incorporates intensive interdisciplinary pain treatment (meaning that it uses a mix of physical therapy and psychotherapy), which is widely accepted in the medical community as the most effective way to treat chronic pain conditions. . . Incorporating psychotherapy in the process of pain recovery does not imply that the pain is not “real” or is “all in your head,” it is merely an acknowledgment of the inextricable link between our bodies and our minds.”
I have not lived with anything other than ordinary aches and pains of stress and aging, and I know many people live with chronic pain that cannot be alleviated in any simple way. But I am also convinced that some of us will be able to find relief from pain through a greater connection of mind, body, and spirit, and I hope these resources will help make those connections and learn more about how to stop pain loops.
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