Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pain vs. Discomfort.

Before I begin this tirade, I will redefine, for the sake of my argument, one of my subjects: By discomfort, I do not mean the type that your doctor or dentist will use to describe a feeling you may have as a result of a procedure they are about to perform on you (often used interchangeably with the word "pressure"); that feeling is actually "pain," the other subject of my argument.

I submit that pain is most often better than discomfort.
"What?" you say, "Blasphemous!" you say, and perhaps I am being a tad twisted (I have been known to laugh through a charlie horse or two), but here's the reasoning of this:
The single sharp sensation derived from being poked by a pin could never compare to the constant annoyance factor of a too-tight waistband or a pair of shoes that aren't exactly too tight, but chafe just enough to make themselves a nuisance. I would rather deal with a headache than the uncomfortable sensation of being stuck to a leather couch on a hot day. The marked contrast between these feelings is two-fold:

  1. Ability to concentrate on the task at hand. When one is in pain, pain becomes the task. With an enormous toothache or a throbbing cut on one's finger, other things are irrelevant and inconsequential, affording your full attention and ability to the ordeal you are currently suffering through. On the other hand, to be uncomfortable is only a distraction from something that is important and must be done. Recall, if you will, the last time you had a ball of sweat rolling down your forehead or a stray hair tickling your neck while your hands and shoulders were otherwise occupied. A nagging sneeze or plugged ear is distracting, but does not require the immediacy of response that an open wound would afford. Therefore, you must continue with your task in a state of mind that is, in some ways, rather tortuous... as you cannot give your task your full attention, but cannot drop your task to see to your annoyance. Which brings me to,
  2. Ability to complain or avoid work. A painful stomach flu gives you every opportunity to evoke the sympathy of others while meanwhile diverting any chance of manual labor---whereas complaining about or drawing attention the fact that you um..have an uncomfortable wedgie is completely out of the question.* A well-deserved pity-party over something that is causing you obvious pain is almost always joined into by your friends and family, whereas any frustration expressed over a slight--but looming--discomfort makes you seem like a baby.
Do you see what I mean?

Now to see if I'm crazy...
Your turn:
Given a choice (and fully understanding the variables at hand) which would you choose,
Minor Pain or Major Discomfort?

*as a side note, I have found that, often, the most uncomfortable things are also the most embarrassing things


  1. Interesting perspective.
    I would actually say that I probably prefer minor discomfort over pain.
    I would state my reasons but it would be drawing unwanted to attention and shall leave my opinion as is.
    Glad to see you blogging so often deary, it makes me indubitably delighted enough to giggle and squirm quite happly in my seat *smiles*

  2. Is Eric beating you or something?

  3. i'd choose pain.

    i'd rather have no novacaine while the dentist drills at my tooth for 5 minutes, than have to endure 6-7 hours of awful numbness (discomfort.) even if a tear or two trickles down my face, at least after 5 minutes the pain is over, and the discomfort of being numb for the majority of the day is avoided.