I mentioned before, everyone knows what it feels like to be in pain. Scraped knees, toothaches, migraines, giving birth, burns, cancer, heart attacks, and heartaches; pain permeates our entire lives. We also witness other people, loved ones, suffering, and we feel for them. It is easy to assume pain-is-pain-is-pain, and that is all there is to say about it. In fact, the way in which people respond to what they describe as painful has changed considerably over time.

Looking back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example, people believed that pain was served as a specific function – to them, it was a message from God; it would perfect the spirit. Suffer in this life and you wouldn’t suffer in the next one… In fact, submission to pain was required from everyone back then. Nothing could be more different in the twenty-first century, where the pain is regarded as an evil to be ‘fought’.

How have people learned to deal when suffering? How do their family and friends feel about suffering or is the best response to the use of a detachment? If you suffer chronic pain you know what I’m talking about.