A greater societal understanding of pain and struggle will be a tremendous asset toward a positive future for our collective humanity. Though it originates and is experienced on a personal level, chronic pain affects not only those who surround the primary victim but society as a whole as well. This reality produces a cumulative burden that has impact beyond daily function and interpersonal psychology of an individual.
Better strategies are needed for reducing pain in the general population. With a deeper understanding of chronic pain comes a better understanding of its burdens, and a reduction of the secondary, societal burdens. Every person has their own capacity, and when it is exhausted or heavily taxed overcoming the burden of chronic pain, there is little energy left for personal growth.
The most detrimental aspect of chronic pain is not the substantial economic burden. Far more destructive is the drain on the psyche of the victim and those around them. Not only is a person in pain less able to contribute positively to work and family in an active way, there is a tendency to become generally negative. Some individuals are able to transcend this negativity and find a way to cope, to contribute positively and be happy. However there are countless others who are not able to overcome this hardship and negativity on their own.
Damaged individuals are less likely to contribute positively, and are more likely to have a negative influence. Consider the effect of chronic pain on the psyche of one’s family and friends. This represents a compound, collective reality that has an exponential effect; the suffering spreads beyond one individual. On one level our world, individually and culturally, exists as a collection of thoughts, responses, and the resultant emotion.
For example, a father suffering from daily pain that he is unable to overcome, pain that interrupts his full function. Whether or not vocalizes his distress his suffering has an impact on the entire family unit. In a house where chronic pain resides, there are innumerable side effects: negative attitudes, time constraints and impatience, sadness and hopelessness, and sometimes anger.
Naturally some individuals that personally deal with and are close to chronic pain can find a way to cope. Those that have recovered demonstrate this possibility. Unfortunately, even full recovery comes with its price, and it is impossible to measure the loss of possible potential in better circumstances. Consider the possibilities if the father in our example was well, working and thriving, traveling, in good spirits, and contributing to the well-being of others, rather than being consumed with his own recovery and taxing the resources of others.
Every person recovering from trauma is unique. All individuals will likely have a different definition of and attitude toward their condition and what defines their recovery, as well as different versions of happiness. Each trauma victim will have his or her path to happiness disrupted to varying degrees. Some who suffer extreme disruption will adopt a new paradigm easily, while someone less disrupted will not.
The question faced is: How to accommodate the healing process culturally? In order to be successful, this change is going to have to be understood at all levels of society, not just within institutions. Teachers, trainers, friends, parents, siblings, and children all have roles equal to the doctors and nurses in this innovation. Just as the individual must create within themselves a personal paradigm shift, society must make a conceptual leap, as a whole, to become aware, to develop our collective empathy, and to gain the skills and the will to help others.