When we ask questions about the similarity in the experience of pain, there are some distinctions that have to be made. When asking this question, are we talking about the biological process of feeling pain? The sensitivity to pain or are we talking about something like whether pain feels the same way to people.
To be honest, there isn’t a straight forward way to answer this question and each of these questions can be answered differently based on what perspective you take.
However, if we can find the reasons for why people feel pain differently it’s possible to treat pain symptoms across the board in ways that are effective for everyone. Considering the role of biology, differences between chemical balances, the general psychological conditions, it’s really unlikely that any two people would feel pain in the same way really. The confusion arises when we look at the biology and that seems identical across the board. But whether it has any implications for the sensation of pain, has yet to be seen.
The Biological Process
The biological processes in the sensation of pain have been thoroughly studied and the role of the brain as well as neurotransmitters in the process has also been largely identified. Even if people have different self-reports of the pain, of the intensity and even the location; the brain acts in more or less identical ways when we speak of the experience of pain.
When a painful stimulus is initiated, the pain receptors in the region of the stimulus send impulses across the nervous system to cause certain areas of the brain to light up. This corresponds to a sensation of pain that people often report.
The Sensation of Pain
The sensation of pain depends on multiple factors such as how responsive the neurotransmitters are, what the psychological state of the individual is and how strong the impulse is. The most interesting observations come from people who suffer from psychosomatic pain, who don’t experience any observable pain inducing stimulus yet still feel pain.
In this sense, the brain keeps lighting up however there is no telling where the nerve impulses are originating from or what is causing it. Many people report different intensities of the pain even when they’re exposed to the same stimuli across the board. Pain thresholds and sensitivity is a matter that has yet to be thoroughly and exhaustively explored.
In many ways, pain is identical, yet different and although there are similarities but we don’t possess the appropriate observational methods to identify these.
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