When Reading Thernstorm’s article, I was enlightened with the new perspective of pain although I came to disagreement by the end.
I believe this essay should be categorized as a personal essay rather than a science essay because although it is informational, it initially begins with a story of a woman dealing with pain, and her struggle through it. It ends with this idea that there might be a cure, and within her explanation, she gives reasons of her belief, which would be considered the science aspect of the essay. However, It is a personal relation and reaction to a new idea.
A passage that was important to me was the category of “expectation” where Thernstorm speaks if the effect of the mind on pain or placebo. This stuck out to me because I could use personal experience to identify with the topic, making it more real to me. For example, when getting a piercing or tattoo, if I am aware on a level of 1-10 on how uncomfortable I will feel, I can prepare myself, making the process easier. However, if I am unaware of the pain, and get a piercing or tattoo, I will take it a lot worse because it is unexpected. This is important to her as an author as well because it helps her get closer to her goal of finding a way to ignore pain.
As much as the article is optimistic, the article evokes both negative and positive emotions because although it gives hope for a better way to handle pain, it also includes reasons why it might not work. These reasons bring pity among the article because as a reader of a woman dealing with pain, we wish for her to find a way out. It also brings up questions as it is informative, yet non bias, letting the reader come to their own personal conclusion and belief.
The article highlights effective procedures as well as challenges. Some of these challenges include little aspects that seem unable to be changed. For example, almost coming to tears over a spilt cup of hot tea was a disadvantage to her argument that even though you are aware of pain, you can learn to not mind it anymore. This counteracts with the idea that you can alter a certain region of the brain just by engaging in it.
Some questions within the article made it easier for readers to understand the ground in which the author is peaking of. By posing questions, the reader has the ability to come to an answer before it is read, making the following argument either agreeable or disagreeable. By doing this, the author is engaging with her audience. An example of this would be in the introduction to this cure when she questions “how does describing problems solve them?” Although not many can come up with an answer, the idea of it is settling as I can agree that sometimes, talking it through makes it all better. This is a good way to lead readers into the new idea brought forth by the author.
Although this topic is a hard one to explain without sounding too much like a research paper, Thernstrom includes her personal story which applies to the pathos (emotion) of her readers. When breaking down the term of this new discovery, it helps that she creates images to help you understand what the term really means, such as a painter stepping back in order to study his work. The concept is also broken down in ways that readers can understand it universally even without any previous medical knowledge. This is a strong part of this article.
Thernstorm attempts to convince readers to be conscious and aware for the next time something happens so that we can try and analyze ourselves. She does not introuduce this as a task, but rather an option for our lives because in reality, diagnosed or not, we all suffer from some type of pain.
Within the beginning of the article, the one idea that caught my mind was the line “fully conscious of consciousness-consciously creating ourselves.” This caught my eye because it related back to the first statement of a painter being able to take a step back and really study and analyze his work. It gave me the impression that like a painter, we can take a step back, and as a painter alters his image, we can alter our self-conscious into something better then fear of pain. However, something to contradict this statement is that idea that a conscious is a natural human response and emotion, and although it changes in life as our experiences go on, it is something I feel cannot be changed so much because it is in our natural being. It is not something we can change like clothing, it’s our natural human response to the world.
A striking moment within the article is the example for the women who had gotten her arm ripped off in a shark encounter. This example stuck out because it spoke of pain being an uncomfortable feeling rather than a hurtful one. This gave the article more hope that there can be such a cure for chronic pain because someone, like a girl experienced a shark attack, has overcome the burden of pain. This is different than other arguments she gives because it includes a real example of a situation in which pain isn’t what it seems. Unlike her similes and examples of broad generalizations such as telling someone they are on medicine and them feeling better. It differed in that it gave a primary example rather than just an idea.
Thernstrom ends the article with voices of others so that it evokes the audience to have a voice for themselves in the matter. Because in reality, everyone suffers from an incident of pain, and even though she is speaking on behalf of her personal issues, it applies universally. It also creates an introduction for the reader to begin their own opinion as it gives questions for them to think of long after they have finished reading the passage.
Within the article, Thernstorm mentions many points of view on pain, and personally, I was aware of the idea of expectation, being a person who expects the pain of a piercing and tattoo. I am also aware of the placebo effect as my mother is a nurse, who tells me stories of how ladies in the nursing home act sick when they see her because they become aware that they are in a hospital. Also I see it in friends, who drink a little amount of alcohol and act like their drunk, when in reality, they just think they are and use it as an excuse to evoke that type of behavior. I am aware of the position that she purposes that sometimes, it’s better to just take a step back and look at things, because you will begin to see things you didn’t see when you were thinking inside the box.
When reading this article, I thought of the Tuskegee experiment in history when white supremacy would take the black population with syphilis and pretend to cure them so that they can come to a conclusion of their own about race. Men in the experiment began feeling more hopeful, even though their bodies where breaking down, because doctors would give them pills and medication said to be curing them, when in reality, they were doing nothing for them. Some sick men even began to blame it on old age rather than the idea of having syphilis. Men felt their bones were better because of “mandatory back rubs” done each morning. This adds to Thernstorm’s essay because it backs up her idea of placebos