Friday, May 26, 2017

What Is Pain?

In the book I'm currently writing, I explain:

A distinction is made between offensive and defensive aggression. Offensive aggression is when a person seeks to inflict injury or pain upon a person who is or has not been attempting to inflict injury or pain upon them. Defensive aggression is when a person seeks to inflict injury or pain upon a person who is or has been attempting to inflict injury or pain upon them. Offensive and defensive aggression are at the heart of Survival and Combat Activities (see Introduction). Injury and pain are at the heart of offensive and defensive aggression, therefore, injury and pain are at the heart of all Survival and Combat Activities methods. What are the two subjects that are never explicitly studied in Survival and Combat Activities literature? Injury and pain. 

I cover, uniquely in Survival and Combat Activities literature, the subject of injury and pain.

Currently I'm working on the chapter on pain. The first issue to cover is, what is pain? That is a question that is more difficult to answer than you might imagine.

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) introduced the most widely used definition of pain. The IASP defined pain as an ‘unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.' So, pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.

The sensory aspect of pain refers to nociception, however, pain may be experienced in the abscence of nociception, e.g., in the case of phantom limb pain when pain is experienced in a limb that does not exist.

The emotional aspect of pain, that is where it gets interesting. What emotion is experienced with pain? The answer to that question is lacking in the literature.

Is pain an emotion like fear or anger? Not according to the vast majority of those that study emotion.

According to Broom, pain is an aversive sensation and feeling. His definition of pain is similar to the IASP definition but differs in detail. The aversive sensation is the sensory experience of the IASP definition, however, Broom distinguishes between emotions and feelings. You can experience a feeling without experiencing an emotion, therefore, you can experience pain with no emotional experience.

Izard distinguishes between drives and emotion. Pain is a drive for Izard which is often accompanied by an emotion. Pain is often accompanied by fear, according to Izard, which is why it is used as a weapon by Survival and Combat Activities. However, pain is also accompanied by anger and aggression which is why the use of pain as a weapon sometimes backfires.

To be continued ...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Blindsight - A Possible Explanation

I was doing some blindfold training with two training partners after a jujutsu class one night while I was still orange belt (I think). Sensei Greg Palmer was watching us train and suggested an exercise.

I was blindfolded and the other two were not. Upon Greg's instruction, the three of use walked randomly around the dojo until he instructed us to stop and stand still. Greg asked me to point to X and when I had pointed he asked me to point to Y.

I'm relatively open-minded and so tried to visualise or feel something that would guide me to their individual locations. Nothing. Out of frustration I pointed to a spot when asked to point to X and likewise for Y. 'This is rubbish,' I thought.

When I took off my blindfold I found I had pointed directly at X when asked to do so and was about five degrees off for Y. X was my regular training partner and Y I only trained with sporadically.

We conducted the exercise again with the same results. The same results including that I felt or perceived nothing but I pointed directly at X each time I was asked to do so and off by five degrees for Y.

During the last session, I turned while we were walking around the dojo (blindfolded). Greg asked why I turned. 'There was a wall in front of me,' I replied. There was.

The final time, Greg asked me to point to X, Y, and the nearest wall. He then asked me how far they were away from me. Spot on with X and the wall and slightly off with Y.

I don't know how I did it. I never tried it again in case I couldn't replicate the results, preferring to have that unblemished memory of something quite extraordinary. Today I read an article on 'blindsight' that may (or may not) explain my experience.

 It ranks among the most curious phenomena in cognitive neuroscience. A handful of people in the world have “blindsight”: they are blind, but their non-conscious brain can still sense their surroundings.
 "The way Dutton explained it was ‘Don’t think about it too much, just go and do it. Don’t think too much in your mind.’ It was my subconscious mind telling me how to do that task and to avoid hitting the chairs.
“I can walk around the house ok, and tidy things up. But I can’t see them. I know they’re there. My brain is telling me. It’s the same if the family have left things lying in the middle of the living room floor. I say ‘you need to tidy up, so I don’t trip over these things’. If there is something lying there, like a handbag or shoes, I can see it and I miss it, or I go to pick it up.
“But I’ll try to look at you, and I know you’re sitting there, sitting close… but I just can’t see you."