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Our dangerous fear of pain
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post


Washington Post, November 27, 2019
Posted: December 23rd, 2019
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/11/27/our-danger...

One of the first things I learned about pain was its value. I was a third-year medical student in 1976. We were ... encouraged to listen carefully to the patients experience of pain, the timing, the duration and any factors that made it better or worse. Forty years later, our concept of pain couldnt be more different. Instead of learning from pain, we now regard it as an illness in and of itself. Insurance companies, health-care providers and drugmakers have all worked to increase the publics fear of pain, leading us to see it as something to be treated, eliminated, banished never lived with or accommodated or managed lest it destroy us. They turned our natural fear into big business; our fee-for-service system has multiplied treatments based primarily on the financial rewards for pharmaceutical companies, doctors and hospitals. That attitude shift is perhaps the most overlooked explanation for an opioid crisis that kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. A healthy fear of pain ... protects us from injury and reminds us to allow time for healing. But otherwise, the fear of pain, and the belief that a pain-free existence is optimal or even possible, has been a catastrophe for patients. Before the opioid revolution, doctors understood that pain was important to keeping us safe, to be lived with and managed. Even if this meant we bore frequent episodes of discomfort, that was better than the nationwide crisis America faces today. Life isnt pain free. If we want to end the epidemic of addiction, we need to relearn that lesson.

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