The Probaway physical pain chart was given to my doctor recently, and while discussing the physical qualities being defined and described in PAINS, it became apparent to me that most of the defining qualities of physical pain could be ascribed equally well to emotional pain. Perhaps the Classical Roman Stoics would make little, perhaps no, distinction between physical pain and emotional pain, as they would say that responding to either type of pain is under the control of the mature Stoic. The pain is a feeling in the mind and those things can be controlled by one’s thoughts.
I had a recent encounter with a guy that disturbed me because he was reacting with hostility to a statement I made that was intended to be kind. Over the ensuing months that brief encounter has been thought through in many variations, trying to discover the root cause of his reaction. Then the realization happened while discussing my hernia operation and my pains with my doctor and using a printout of the chart above to explain my level of discomfort.
The guy was manifesting symptoms of PAINS-8 and 9 and possibly 10. That was observed in the column labeled “Typical externally observed behavior at this level of pain.” The problem for me was that I hadn’t done or said anything that I thought would cause pain, and it appears at the moment to have been caused by my touching on some subject where he had a lot of residual pain.
Even the slightest touch on any sore wound will cause severe pain.