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Nervous Strain In Pain And Sickness

Categories: Uncategorized
Sources: Power Through Repose

THERE is no way in which superfluous and dangerous tension is so

rapidly increased as in the bearing of pain. The general impression

seems to be that one should brace up to a pain; and very great

strength of will is often shown in the effort made and the success

achieved in bearing severe pain by means of this bracing process.

But alas, the reaction after the pain is over--that alone would show

the very sad misuse whic
had been made of a strong will. Not that

there need be no reaction; but it follows naturally that the more

strain brought to bear upon the nervous system in endurance, the

greater must be the reaction when the load is lifted. Indeed, so

well is this known in the medical profession, that it is a surgical

axiom that the patient who most completely controls his expression

of pain will be the greatest sufferer from the subsequent reaction.

While there is so much pain to be endured in this world, a study of

how best to bear it certainly is not out of place, especially when

decided practical effects can be quickly shown as the result of such

study. So prevalent is the idea that a pain is better borne by

clinching the fists and tightening all other muscles in the body

correspondingly, that I know the possibility of a better or more

natural mode of endurance will be laughed at by many, and others

will say, "That is all very well for those who can relax to a

pain,--let them gain from it, I cannot; it is natural for me to set

my teeth and bear it." There is a distinct difference between what

is natural to us and natural to Nature, although the first term is

of course misused.

Pain comes from an abnormal state of some part of the nervous

system. The more the nerves are strained to bear pain, the more

sensitive they become; and of course those affected immediately feel

most keenly the increased sensitiveness, and so the pain grows

worse. Reverse that action, and through the force of our own

inhibitory power let a new pain be a reminder to us to _let go,_

instead of to hold on, and by decreasing the strain we decrease the

possibility of more pain. Whatever reaction may follow pain then,

will be reaction from the pain itself, not from the abnormal tension

which has been held for the purpose of bearing it.

But--it will be objected--is not the very effort of the brain to

relax the tension a nervous strain? Yes, it is,--not so great,

however, as the continued tension all over the body, and it grows

less and less as the habit is acquired of bearing the pain easily.

The strain decreases more rapidly with those who having undertaken

to relax, perceive the immediate effects; for, of course, as the

path clears and new light comes they are encouraged to walk more

steadily in the easier way.

I know there are pains that are better borne and even helped by a

certain amount of _bracing,_ but if the idea of bearing such pain

quietly, easily, naturally, takes a strong hold of the mind, all

bracing will be with a true equilibrium of the muscles, and will

have the required effect without superfluous tension.

One of the most simple instances of bearing pain more easily by

relaxing to it occurs while sitting in the dentist's chair. Most of

us clutch the arms, push with our feet, and hold ourselves off the

chair to the best of our ability. Every nerve is alive with the

expectation of being hurt

The fatigue which results from an hour or more of this dentist

tension is too well known to need description. Most of the nervous

fatigue suffered from the dentist's work is in consequence of the

unnecessary strain of expecting a hurt and not from any actual pain

inflicted. The result obtained by insisting upon making yourself a

dead weight in the chair, if you succeed only partially, will prove

this. It will also be a preliminary means of getting well rid of the

dentist fright,--that peculiar dread which is so well known to most

of us. The effect of fright is nervous strain, which again contracts

the muscles. If we drop the muscular tension, and so the nervous

strain, thus working our way into the cause by means of the effect,

there will be no nerves or muscles to hold the fright, which then so

far as the physique is concerned cannot exist. _So far as the

physique is concerned,--_that is emphatic; for as we work inward

from the effect to the cause we must be met by the true philosophy

inside, to accomplish the whole work. I might relax my body out of

the nervous strain of fright all day; if my mind insisted upon being

frightened it would simply be a process of freeing my nerves and

muscles that they might be made more effectually tense by an

unbalanced, miserably controlled mind. In training to bring body and

mind to a more normal state, the teacher must often begin with the

body only, and use his own mind to gently lead the pupil to clearer

sight. Then when the pupil can strike the equilibrium between mind

and body,--he must be left to acquire the habit for himself.

The same principles by which bearing the work of the dentist is made

easier, are applicable in all pain, and especially helpful when pain

is nervously exaggerated. It would be useless and impossible to

follow the list of various pains which we attempt to bear by means

of additional strain.

Each of us has his own personal temptation in the way of pain,--from

the dentist's chair to the most severe suffering, or the most

painful operation,--and each can apply for himself the better way of

bearing it. And it is not perhaps out of place here to speak of the

taking of ether or any anaesthetic before an operation. The power of

relaxing to the process easily and quietly brings a quicker and

pleasanter effect with less disagreeable results. One must take

ether easily in mind and body. It a man forces himself to be quiet

externally, and is frightened and excited mentally, as soon as he

has become unconscious enough to lose control of his voluntary

muscles, the impression of fright made upon the brain asserts

itself, and he struggles and resists in proportion.

These same principles of repose should be applied in illness when it

comes in other forms than that of pain. We can easily increase

whatever illness may attack us by the nervous strain which comes

from fright, anxiety, or annoyance. I have seen a woman retain a

severe cold for days more than was necessary, simply because of the

chronic state of strain she kept herself in by fretting about it;

and in another unpleasantly amusing case the sufferer's constantly

expressed annoyance took the form of working almost without

intermission to find remedies for herself. Without using patience

enough to wait for the result of one remedy, she would rush to

another until she became--so to speak--twisted and snarled in the

meshes of a cold which it took weeks thoroughly to cure. This is not

uncommon, and not confined merely to a cold in the head.

We can increase the suffering of friends through "sympathy" given in

the same mistaken way by which we increase our own pain, or keep

ourselves longer than necessary in an uncomfortable illness.