"I was in quite a bit of pain last night and so, when I woke up at 2.00 am, I decided to get up for an hour or two and do an early post while the pain subsided, before returning to bed. Pain always presents itself to inform the body that something is wrong, and by doing so, provide one with the opportunity of doing something about it. For my part, I have been in different levels of constant pain with my legs ever since a serious traffic accident at the age of eleven years. My response to pain is to attempt to block the pain receptors through 'distraction.'
A Noriceptor is a sensory nerve cell that responds to a damaging or potentially damaging stimuli by sending signals to the spinal cord and the brain. This process called noriception usually causes the physical sensations of pain in sentient beings. Sentience is essentially the capacity to feel, perceive or subjectively experience the pain. Pain can either be an aberration of the mind or be physically located in the body (ie imagined or physically felt). All pain is real, whether imagined, psychologically feared or physically produced by bodily injury. Therefore, a physical experience such as breaking a leg, having an illness etc will produce pain, but so can a traumatic experience one occurred in the past, and which has never been emotionally resolved and healthily processed!
As a Relaxation disciple and Trainer for the past sixty years, I have always preferred to use mental distraction as a coping mechanism. This doesn't make the pain go away, but simply take one's mind off it! Some use massage, medication, prayer or alternate methods of therapeutic practice to help the pain become more tolerable or go away. By 'go away', I mean go away from either the body or the mind!
The method I have always preferred to use to take my mind away from the pain I am feeling is one of 'distraction'. Distraction can be produced in so many different ways from the magic rub a mother gives her fallen child, to even being in the presence of someone who is worse off and experiences more pain than you, through to that of a Faith Healer. As a young child of 11 years, when western medicine offered me little hope of ever walking again, I turned to the east and over the years became a disciple of eastern traditions. Even at that young age, I'd heard of Hindu Yogis who were capable of being suspended with hooks pierced through their skin, having many knives pushed from one side of their cheek to the other or walking across hot coals. They were capable of all these things, which under normal circumstances would produce pain, burns or other body damage in you or I. Lots of reading and study on this topic informed me that it is physically possible to distract the body from bleeding, burning or paining by mentally blocking the pain receptors. I even learned that heart rate and blood pressure can also be reduced by 'distraction' of one's mind, allied to some meditative practices that help produce brain-wave alteration and the redirection of mental focus.
My own preferred methods of distraction is Relaxation practise, to openly talk about my pain, to work with others who have more intractable pain than myself, and very importantly, through my writing. As the author of sixty six published books since 1990, many people might remark about me being prolific in my literary works. The simple truth is that because I am in a lot of pain a lot of the time, which has worsened considerably since 1990, I write a lot!
As a Probation Officer and Relaxation Trainer for most of my working life before I retired early on the grounds of ill health, I worked with many people who suffered pain from people in wheelchairs, soldiers with post traumatic stress, and persons who had suffered physical, mental and psychological abuse in their past. I recall a woman who had been raped by a stranger and the physical pain she experienced at the time was, over the years, aggravated by mental and psychological pain. Every time her husband tried to make love with her, at the point of entry, she would feel the physical pain she felt when she was initially raped and instinctively push him away from her. Not surprisingly, their relationship broke down as a consequence.
From every kind of painful situation I encountered in my work, I found that the pain produced in childhood through physical, sexual or mental abuse was the greatest, the most intractable and was capable of remaining in the body and mind the longest; even a lifetime. While the methods of working with such people varied enormously, the most successful ones involved mental, physical and psychological distraction. These working methods helped them to change from the role of 'victim' to one of 'survivor.' They were also helped by being enabled to mentally re-experience the traumatic event and thereby change its negative impact upon their body, The most important process of all however, was talking, talking and more talking the pain out of the body! The ones who proved to be the most difficult to help were those who had been sexually abused as children; particularly by a relative.
I was always brought up to believe that the innocence of the child is sacrosanct. I was told that innocence is a state unblemished by guilt, malice or any other wicked intention. My church teachings taught me that an innocent is one who lacks worldly experience, is sinless and chaste. I therefore grew up believing the small child to be no less than innocence incarnate; the smallest of humans whose wisdom is found in exploration and wonder. From the moment they are able to stand and take a few stumbling steps, they start their march of independence, from innocence to virtue. Alas, it is the adult who takes them away from their childhood path. I will never forget that very first Christmas morning when I awoke and knew there was no Santa. It was as though my magic wand had been irreparably broken.
For most of my working life, I was employed as a Probation Officer in West Yorkshire. During that period, I worked with all different types of offenders, young and old. These included murderers, robbers, burglars, arsonists, rapists and even kidnappers. My job involved trying to understand their offending behaviour patterns so that I might help them stop offending. For the overwhelming majority of offending types, they could be helped to change when the time, the process applied and their willingness was right. For some offenders however, their offending behaviour pattern was so entrenched, that few ever managed to make the transition, however much they wanted to or tried.
Many such offending types were the sexual defilers of innocent children; the paedophiles. Not only was I unable to help them, but I found their crimes so disgusting and morally repugnant, that I struggled to understand them and I never got to like them, however many years I visited them in prison. Having worked with numerous paedophiles over the years, I learned the following. Almost all were child victims themselves. Most of them select children to molest who were the same age as they were when first molested against. This is to explain the thread of a pattern in their behaviour and not to mitigate or excuse their vile actions.
After each prison visit of such an offender, I was always relieved to return to fresh air outside the prison. The thing I most hated about their offences was the way they used the trust of innocent children to gain access to their despoilment. Having worked with so many of their victims after the children had grown up, I witnessed their repeated failure to sustain any meaningful relationships with a partner. It was as though their childhood despoilment had not only crushed their dreams and robbed them of their innocence; it also left them as fallen angels.
As a Christian, I am constantly told that I should be able to forgive all manner of wrongdoer, however heinous their crimes. I have to admit that while I accept the two greatest physical needs to be 'goodness' and 'forgiveness', while I can usually see goodness in most men and women, there are some in whom I'm afraid I'd never find the means to forgive. My love of children would simply blind me towards their inability and willingness to change.
I will end this post with a quotation by Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th century American Congregationalist clergyman and social reformer, known for his support of the abolition of slavery. Throughout his life time of preaching, the emphasis of all his sermons was on God's love:
'Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.'
God bless all little children; innocence incarnate." William Forde: September 24th, 2016.