Philosophy

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Is Pain Necessary?

Roland Puccettia1

a1 Dalhousie University

Many writers have been struck by what Ronald Melzack, a leading investigator of pain mechanisms, calls the ‘puzzle’ of pain. Thus the surgeon Leriche, often quoted in this connection, says:

Defence reaction? Fortunate warning? But as a matter of fact the majority of illnesses, even the most serious, attack us without warning. Sickness is nearly always a drama in two acts, of which the first takes place, cunningly enough, in the dim silence of bur tissues, with the lights out, before the candles have been lit. When pain makes its appearance, we are almost in the second act…… Pain merely makes more distressing and sad a situation already long lost…… In fact, pain is always a baleful gift, which reduces the subject of it, and makes him more ill than he would be without it (pp. 22–23).