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TABLE LESSONS best practices Pain as Punishment? By Douglas Nelson "I found something when I was cleaning my offi ce yesterday, and I think you will enjoy reading it. I put a letter and two other articles of interest in this envelope." "Thank you," I replied to my client. "I'll be sure to look at this later this evening." In the blur that is my daily life, "later this evening" turned out to be many days later. When I fi nally opened the envelope and read the enclosed letter, I was absolutely stunned. The contents stopped me in my tracks, and I read the letter multiple times to digest its contents. The letter was written by a friend of my client, someone to whom he had given a copy of my book, The Mystery of Pain (Singing Dragon, 2013). She expressed her gratitude for the gift and outlined several ways the book had a profound effect on her life. I share two of her insights with you now because they are so pertinent to our understanding of pain and how that understanding profoundly affects our experience. After expressing her thanks for the book, she stated the following: "My aha moment came as soon as I read the fi rst chapter regarding pain as punishment. I have both consciously and subconsciously felt I deserved every moment of pain I have encountered for my inability to make my mentally ill mother well and for its effect on the family. No punishment was too great for my failure at love!" "I deserved every moment of pain." The full gravity of that statement is hard to wrap my brain around, even now. Imagine the burden she was carrying! In the fi rst chapter of the book, I explored the impact of the Latin derivation of pain, poena, meaning "to punish." In this interpretation, pain is an appropriate punishment in response to an offense committed. In the world of acute pain, this can make sense. Foolishly play with a sharp object and the resulting wound is a painful reminder to be a bit more careful in the future, but applying the rules of acute pain to chronic conditions can be seriously Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 23

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