The Worst Pain

The worst pain is to feel no pain.

18 Responses to “The Worst Pain”

  1. Anthony Velez  

    I have to admit that this aphorism was inspired by one of U2’s songs.

  2. K.L.B.  

    The worst moron is an oxymoron.

    Say hello to ‘anesthesia’.

  3. Rachel  

    But can it be considered ‘pain’ if it cannot be felt? Isn’t that the nature of sensation?

  4. Roger Green  

    I think I get it. I mean, the idea of pain is to alert us, “Hey, something’s wrong!” If we’re oblivious to the pain, if we’re numbed to the pain, greater harm, and probably greater pain, will follow.

  5. Rachel  


    I think I see what you mean. And actually, upon further reflection you make a lot of sense. It would be worse to be in a state where one of nature’s basic warning systems no longer functions correctly. I still wonder though if we can technically call this a state of ‘pain’ or if we have passed into some other state entirely where even pain cannot tread? …

  6. Roger Green  

    Rachel – I suspect, and Anthony can/will corrrect me if I’m wrong, he was making the analogy about relationship w God.

  7. Anthony Velez  

    Rachel & Roger – Yes! In order to write the aphorism I had to play with the semantic range of the word pain, and I wondered if I pushed it too far, but for the sake of brevity (which is what an aphorism demands) and parallelism (which can be evocative), I wrote it as is.

    Biologically speaking, when we are no longer consciously receiving messages from pain receptors we are in a pretty bad state, a state that is worse than when we are at the limit of pain we can endure. Also, I am using the biological reality to express what I think is true of psychological pain. What struck me is that I spend so much time wanting to avoid pain, which if pushed to far would mean that I prefer to be numb, and this I realize is worse than feeling pain, because then I would be at risk of losing my humanity all together. This is not to say that pain is essential to being human, but rather that sentience is, and sentience is not just a matter of being rational, but being both a rational and emotive being. The emotive part of us, particularly when we are genuinely trying to relate to others, is what puts us at risk of soul pain. This, of course, is the case given our context: a world blighted by sin.

  8. Anthony Velez  

    In thinking about this further, I changed my original aphorism. Initially what I wrote, and what you responded to, was, “The worse pain is the pain you cannot feel.” In this expression, the emphasis is on the object of pain, and it raises questions about what kind of pain it is that one might not feel, which would miss the point of what I was trying to communicate. In my revision, by contrast, the emphasis is on not feeling pain, and this is the very thing that is so damaging.

    So, I want to thank everyone for their response, because I am so dependent upon others to think and write clearly and with power.

  9. K.L.B.  

    STOP IT! Just STOP IT !!

    No… it’s not an “aphorism.” It’s an oxymoron!

    And you can’t fix stupid.

    Now, if you wanna’ talk health and pain – blah, blah, blah – you’d better be talking Hansen’s Disease, previously known as “leprosy.”

    Why Hansen’s Disease?

    As it progresses, it kills sensation in the periphery, through nerve involvement.

    The solitary treatment center in the USA is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Ochsner Medical Center. –

    So, why have lepers lost limbs?

    Similarly to DM – Diabetes Mellitus – in the later stages of DM, peripheral nerve damage often results, which disables the sufferer/victim/patient from feeling painful stimuli when they step on things. Typically, infections result from the puncture wounds, and sometimes, the foreign objects are embedded, and are not discovered until later.

    With HD – Hansen’s Disease – similar sequelae follows. Disabled by an inability to feel pain, the victims/sufferers/patients may injure themselves completely unaware, i.e., stub their toes, may burn their hands, etc. Often, resulting infections set up, which left untreated, may become so extensively infected and later become necrotic.

    Because of DM’s secondary effects – blood flow restriction in the peripheral vasculature – the tissue may become necrotic from within, whereas with HD, the disease’s secondary effects are noted only in the later stages of the disease, and are external, and secondary to the disease process. With DM, it is an internal secondary process.

    As well, HD is known only to exist in humans, so we are the natural reservoir for the disease. However, it is known to be carried by armadillos.

    So… STOP THE BS!!

    You wrote an oxymoron!

  10. K.L.B.  

    Grammatically… it should be the “WORST” pain, rather than “worse.”

    “Worst” is a superlative, whereas “worse,” is a comparative.

  11. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – you got me with the grammatical error. I will change it. I am going to stick with it as an aphorism though. I think an example of an oxymoron would be something like “She was such a pleasure to look at that it hurt” You could, of course, say I don’t like your aphorism, just as one might say, “I don’t like that song” or “I don’t like that movie.” But, I don’t think you can dismiss it as an aphorism just because you find it to be contradictory or oxymoronic. In the end it still has the characteristics necessary for it to qualify as an aphorism.

  12. K.L.B.  

    I might be willing to “split the difference,” with you on your assertion. Yet, I wonder – what is the general truth contained therein? Let’s have a bit o’fun with this. Defend my position – yes, mine. And I shall attempt to defend yours.

  13. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – I actually nodded in your direction in the 7th comment above, as did Rachel in the 3rd and 5th comment. Basically one could argue that there are limits regarding the semantic range of a word, that we can so stretch a term in application that it comes to mean practically nothing. So, with this is mind such a one could further argue that the word “pain” should be restricted to instances where one actually feels something, and by comparison reserve traumatic instances (physical or emotional) where no negative sensation is experienced for the word “numb.”

  14. Anthony Velez  

    Having said the above, I feel impelled to say that I am more of a poet than a positivist. In other words, I could have said “numbness is worse than pain” but it lacks a certain evocative quality. Maybe I could have said “numbness is worse than the worst pain”, which is a little better, but still, I don’t like it as much. In the end, I am willing to stretch a word for the sake of literary evocation.

  15. Roger Green  

    OK, I’m going to make the case for the original quote: “The worse pain is the pain you cannot feel.”

    And it WAS a comparison of the two, between feeling the pain and being so numb (physicaly, spiritually) that you cannot feel, not a measure of various gradations of pain. I think that what you were saying at the outset IS a comparative.

    Moreover, the current quote lacks poetry, to my mind. Frankly, I think it’d be improved by going BACK to “worse”, if, in fact, that’s what you meant. Compare with “the better course of action”, which does not state that there are only two courses of action, though “better” is comparative. “The best course of action” would be more grammatically correct, but far less interesting.

  16. K.L.B.  

    Hurt, the Trent Reznor/9 Inch Nails song performed by Johnny Cash

  17. K.L.B.  

    I feel your pain.”
    – William Jefferson ‘Bill’ Clinton, governor of Arkansas, April 2, 1992, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president

  18. Liv  

    KLB…did you miss the point completely? Further, it might be prudent to refrain from unnecessary rudeness and correcting minor grammatical errors when the authors are sharing their thoughts on certain matters. You have been invited to comment, not harangue.
    The worst pain is to feel no pain. But, does anyone really feel no pain at all? Is there nothing in us that naturally calls towards a higher power? I believe it was you that said Saart (?), a declared atheist, claimed to have an emotional or spiritual crying out for God, but he did not believe because he chose not to. In which case, it is not that he felt no pain, but that he chose to ignore it? Could his situation possibly apply to humanity as a whole? Coming from a Xian perspective, humans were created for God’s own purpose, and it would be highly probable that our inherent being is complete only once in God’s own embrace. If we are not, then there would be pain. I argue against numbness, unless it is the numbness of years of agony gone by or the numbness to life from the pain itself, but rather the worse pain, the worse agony, is to not know why the agony is there. Not that it isn’t felt, but that it IS felt, only the cause is unknown and therefore untreatable.
    Just my thoughts.