What if your individual experience of pain is connected to a wider and deeper collective wounding? Is this connected to America’s chronic pain problem?
Nicholas Kristof wrote an essay about the relationship between our economic and social woes and the rise in rates of chronic pain. He writes,
“In other wealthy countries, it’s the elderly who report the most chronic pain, which makes some sense. But in the United States it’s the middle-aged — especially the jobless and people like Wert, who did not graduate from high school — who suffer the most. It is a plague on the less educated.”
Anecdotally, I know plenty of highly educated people who are also experiencing chronic pain, and they too might find themselves in the phenomenon Kristof describes. Pain is not a solitary physiological sensation but a multi-faceted reality that expresses itself in response to our psyches, our spirits, and our communities.
On a personal level, there are ways to address chronic pain, starting with getting more sleep and exercise and continuing with physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga, therapy, and meditation, according to Dr. Daniel Clauw, director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan.
But Kristof underscores the point that this epidemic of chronic pain in America is as much a collective social problem as it is an individualized one:
“Maybe the brain’s pain alarm system is trying to tell us about how America heals: To ease our chronic pain, we must do better at addressing deeper wounds in our economy and society.”
As I write in To Be Made Well, healing is for each of us and for all of us. The healing offered through Jesus goes beyond the healing of surgery and pain pills. It is the healing that comes to us as individuals and as a society, to each of us and to all of us. It is a way of honesty, humility, and hope that leads to personal and collective healing.
For more, see my free resource: MOVEMENTS OF HEALING: Honesty. Humility. Hope.
More with Amy Julia:
- S6 E11 | Chronic Pain’s Untold Story with Dr. Haider Warraich
- When Pain Remains
- S4 E2 | Where Is God When the Pain Won’t Stop? with Liuan Huska
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