Reading Everyone is in pain. However, how strong or threatening they feel depends on the situation in which the person is - and on the culture in which he grew up: pain is also a cultural phenomenon. In Europe, too, his understanding has changed throughout history. Everyone knows this phenomenon: those who are distracted and do not focus on their pain perceive them as less strong. A child falling down while fooling around with his playmate notices his bleeding knee less quickly than when alone and not distracted. Although all people know pain, even with a similar cause pain is not always felt the same. The reason: Nerve impulses reach the brain from the affected body parts - only there is this information sorted according to the degree of importance and possibly interpreted as pain. When and how pain is perceived can vary from person to person.

Fear, anger and helplessness tend to exacerbate the pain, while making it easier for the person concerned to understand and care for them. Whether and in what form the individual shows his complaints to the outside, is a partially learned behavior and different from culture to culture. According to the saying "Hard men do not cry!", For many it is the quiet endurance of pain to be a man. "Pain understanding and pain processing are partly dependent on cultural and situational factors, " said the psychologist Ursula Frede ddp.

For example, sufferers often perceive injuries that they can not gauge, how dangerous they are, as much more painful. Therefore, an injured person in a traffic accident often suffers more than the same person would do in another situation. The reason for this is that the patient can not assess his or her situation and is thus additionally insecure. In a front-line soldier, a similar injury might have more of a positive meaning, since he will first be cared for in a hospital and thus be safe and not immediately back to the front.

"The culture we live in and personal attitudes change quite clearly how pain is experienced, " writes David Morris in his book "The Story of Pain." There are differences in terms of when pain is socially accepted or recognized as particularly stressful. "Torment yourself, you pig!", Jan Ullrich heard in 1997 on his way to the victory of the Tour de France. In fact, pain is a matter of course for him and many other competitive athletes. These are usually not classified as a risk to their own health, but as training progress or as necessary to increase performance. display

In turn, birth pains take Western cultures for granted. That does not have to be that way. In Micronesia and the Amazon, the phenomenon of the "male child's bed" is widespread: women interrupt their working day for the birth of their child only two to three hours and show little signs of pain. The expectant father, on the other hand, seems to feel great pain during birth and a few days later. Without these, he would not be recognized by his fellow human beings as the legitimate father of the child.

"It helps people to endure pain when they place it in a superordinate context and thus give their pain a certain sense, " explains Ursula Frede. "Life is suffering, " it says, for example, in Buddhism. In Western industrial nations, on the other hand, there is no accepting attitude to pain. As a result, pain patients often suffer from not being recognized as fully functional. Physical complaints are often regarded as an unacceptable disruptive factor, which must be remedied quickly, thanks to modern medicine today better than ever succeed.

This has not always been the case: surgical interventions, from pulling teeth to amputations, can only be performed with numbness since 1846. Thanks to advances in medicine, people have only been hoping for a more or less painless life for a century and a half. However, in most cultures and epochs, pain has been and still is a ubiquitous experience for which there is little remedy and must be endured.

Even in European culture pain was perceived earlier differently. This becomes clear, for example, through the previously widespread word "pain". It comes from the Latin term "Poena" and means penance or punishment. In the Middle Ages, many people believed that they could breathe bodily pain for their sins in this world, thus escaping the torments of the beyond. It is also possible to understand why saints who suffered pain for other sinners were worshiped.

ddp / Eva H rschgen

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