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Caitlin Jeschke's picture

emotional component?

I'm not sure that I would agree with there being an emotional component to all types of pain that humans experience.  However, I definitely agree that memory plays a huge part in avoiding potentially painful actions.  As I suggested in a previous post, I believe that conscious memory may be one of the factors that separates humans from other organisms.  Through memory, we have access not only to feedback signals that our bodies are currently receiving, but also, to a certain extent, to feedback from past actions.  This input allows us to avoid behaviors that may result in pain. 

That said, I feel that a distinction can be made between physical pain and emotional pain.  Humans make behavioral choices so as to avoid both types of pain.  I would argue that other animals, such as lobsters, do feel and attempt to escape from physical pain, but that they do not feel emotional pain.  This issue is definitely very interesting.  During our "phantom limb" discussions, we defined pain as a physical sensation telling the body that something was wrong, or that signals weren't matching up.  In the case of a lobster boiling or, for example, a child touching a hot stove, it is very easy to see what that "something wrong" is.  However, what type of signal discordance is occurring when we feel emotional pain?  Many symptoms of emotional distress (ex: eyes watering, nausea, fatigue) are also common to physical distress, but there is no obvious physical cause. Thoughts?

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