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Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of
affective Affect, in psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of imm ...
phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies ma ...

phenomena
. The opposite of suffering is
pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain or suffering, which are forms of feeling bad. It is closely related to value, desire and action: humans and other conscious animals ...
or
happiness The term ''happiness'' is used in the context of Mental health, mental or emotional states, including positive or Pleasure, pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subj ...

happiness
. Suffering is often categorized as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and frequency of occurrence usually compound that of intensity. Attitudes toward suffering may vary widely, in the sufferer or other people, according to how much it is regarded as avoidable or unavoidable, useful or useless, deserved or undeserved. Suffering occurs in the lives of
sentient Sentience is the capacity to experience feeling Feeling was originally used to describe the physical sensation of touch The somatosensory system is a part of the sensory nervous system. The somatosensory system is a complex system of sensory ...
beings in numerous manners, often dramatically. As a result, many fields of human activity are concerned with some aspects of suffering. These aspects may include the nature of suffering, its processes, its origin and causes, its meaning and significance, its related personal, social, and cultural behaviors, its remedies, management, and uses.


Terminology

The word ''suffering'' is sometimes used in the narrow sense of physical pain, but more often it refers to
psychological pain Psychological pain, mental pain, or emotional pain is an unpleasant feeling (a suffering) of a psychological, non-physical origin. A pioneer in the field of suicidology, Edwin S. Shneidman, described it as "how much you hurt as a human being. It i ...
, or more often yet it refers to pain in the broad sense, i.e. to any unpleasant
feeling Feeling was originally used to describe the physical sensation of touch The somatosensory system is a part of the sensory nervous system The sensory nervous system is a part of the nervous system responsible for processing sense, sensory in ...

feeling
,
emotion Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent with a proposition. Several of these states are a comb ...

emotion
or
sensationSensation refers to the processing of sense Sense relates to any of the systems and corresponding organs involved in sensation, i.e. the physical process of responding to Stimulus (physiology), stimuli and providing data for perception. During sensa ...

sensation
. The word ''pain'' usually refers to physical pain, but it is also a common synonym of ''suffering''. The words ''pain'' and ''suffering'' are often used both together in different ways. For instance, they may be used as interchangeable synonyms. Or they may be used in 'contradistinction' to one another, as in "pain is physical, suffering is mental", or "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional". Or they may be used to define each other, as in "pain is physical suffering", or "suffering is severe physical or mental pain". Qualifiers, such as ''physical'', ''mental'', ''emotional'', and ''psychological'', are often used to refer to certain types of pain or suffering. In particular, ''mental pain (or suffering)'' may be used in relationship with ''physical pain (or suffering)'' for distinguishing between two wide categories of pain or suffering. A first caveat concerning such a distinction is that it uses ''physical pain'' in a sense that normally includes not only the 'typical sensory experience of physical pain' but also other unpleasant bodily experiences including
air hunger The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The mo ...
,
hunger In politics, humanitarian aid, and the social sciences, hunger is defined as a condition in which a person cannot eat sufficient food to meet basic nutritional needs for a sustained period. In the field of hunger relief, the term ''hunger'' ...

hunger
, vestibular suffering,
nausea Nausea is a diffuse sensation of unease and discomfort, often perceived as an urge to vomiting, vomit. While not painful, it can be a debilitating symptom if prolonged and has been described as placing discomfort on the chest, upper abdomen, or ...

nausea
,
sleep deprivation Sleep deprivation, also known as sleep insufficiency or sleeplessness, is the condition of not having adequate duration and/or quality of sleep Sleep is a Nature, naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciou ...
, and
itch ITCH is a HECT domain In molecular biology, the HECT domain is a protein domain A protein domain is a region of the protein's Peptide, polypeptide chain that is self-stabilizing and that folds independently from the rest. Each domain forms a c ...

itch
ing. A second caveat is that the terms ''physical'' or ''mental'' should not be taken too literally: physical pain or suffering, as a matter of fact, happens through conscious minds and involves emotional aspects, while mental pain or suffering happens through physical brains and, being an emotion, involves important physiological aspects. The word ''unpleasantness'', which some people use as a synonym of ''suffering'' or ''pain'' in the broad sense, may refer to the basic affective dimension of pain (its suffering aspect), usually in contrast with the sensory dimension, as for instance in this sentence: "Pain-unpleasantness is often, though not always, closely linked to both the intensity and unique qualities of the painful sensation." Other current words that have a definition with some similarity to ''suffering'' include ''distress, unhappiness, misery, affliction, woe, ill, discomfort, displeasure, disagreeableness''.


Philosophy


Ancient Greek philosophy

Many of the Hellenistic philosophies addressed suffering. In
Cynicism (philosophy) Cynicism ( grc, κυνισμός) is a school of thought of ancient Greek philosophy as practiced by the Cynics ( grc, Κυνικοί; la, Cynici). For the Cynics, the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. As reasonin ...
suffering is alleviated by achieving mental clarity or lucidity (ἁτυφια) (literally "freedom from smoke (τύφος)" which signified false belief, mindlessness, folly, and conceit), developing self-sufficiency (αὐτάρκεια),
equanimity Equanimity (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relati ...

equanimity
, ''
arete ''Arete'' (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximate ...
'',
love of humanity
love of humanity
, ''
parrhesia In rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agre ...
'', and indifference to the vicissitudes of life (''
adiaphora Adiaphoron (, plural: adiaphora from the Greek language, Greek ἀδιάφορα (pl. of ἀδιάφορον), is the negation of διάφορα, meaning "not different or differentiable". In Cynicism (philosophy), Cynicism, adiaphora represents ...
'' ἁδιαφορία). For
Pyrrhonism Pyrrhonism is a school of philosophical skepticism Philosophical skepticism (American and British English spelling differences, UK spelling: scepticism; from Ancient Greek, Greek σκέψις ''skepsis'', "inquiry") is a family of Philosophy ...
, suffering comes from
dogma Dogma is a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted. It may be in the form of an official system of principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior ...

dogma
s (i.e.
belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconsci ...

belief
s regarding non-evident matters), most particularly beliefs that certain things are either good or bad by nature. Suffering can be removed by developing epoche (suspension of judgment) regarding beliefs, which leads to
ataraxia ''Ataraxia'' (Greek: ἀταραξία, from alpha privativeAn alpha privative or, rarely, privative a (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin ...
(mental tranquility).
Epicurus Epicurus, ''Epíkouros'', "ally, comrade" (341–270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded Epicureanism Epicureanism is a system of founded around 307 BC based upon the teachings of the . Epicureanism was originally ...

Epicurus
(contrary to common misperceptions of his doctrine) advocated that we should first seek to avoid suffering (
aponia "Aponia" ( grc, ἀπονία) means the absence of pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The International Association for the Study of Pain The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP ...
) and that the greatest pleasure lies in
ataraxia ''Ataraxia'' (Greek: ἀταραξία, from alpha privativeAn alpha privative or, rarely, privative a (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin ...
, free from the worrisome pursuit or the unwelcome consequences of ephemeral pleasures.
Epicureanism Epicureanism is a system of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Ph ...
's version of
Hedonism Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that ''pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain Pain is a distressing feeling often cau ...
, as an ethical theory, claims that good and bad consist ultimately in
pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain or suffering, which are forms of feeling bad. It is closely related to value, desire and action: humans and other conscious animals ...
and pain. For
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
, the greatest good lies in reason and virtue, but the soul best reaches it through a kind of indifference (
apatheia Apatheia ( el, ἀπάθεια; from ''a-'' "without" and ''pathos'' "suffering" or "passion"), in Stoicism, refers to a state of mind in which one is not disturbed by the passions (philosophy), passions. It is best translated by the word equanimit ...

apatheia
) to pleasure and pain: as a consequence, this doctrine has become identified with stern self-control in regard to suffering.


Modern philosophy

Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates">O.S._4_February_1747.html" ;"title="Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" ;"title="nowiki/>Old Style and New Style dates">O.S. 4 February 1747">Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.htm ...

Jeremy Bentham
developed hedonistic
utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a family of normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as ba ...
, a popular doctrine in ethics, politics, and economics. Bentham argued that the right act or policy was that which would cause "the greatest happiness of the greatest number". He suggested a procedure called hedonic or felicific calculus, for determining how much pleasure and pain would result from any action.
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), also cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most i ...
improved and promoted the doctrine of hedonistic utilitarianism.
Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as tho ...

Karl Popper
, in ''
The Open Society and Its Enemies ''The Open Society and Its Enemies'' is a work on political philosophy by the philosopher Karl Popper, in which the author presents a "defence of the open society against its enemies", and offers a critique of theories of teleology, teleological hi ...
'', proposed a
negative utilitarianism Negative utilitarianism is a form of negative consequentialism Negative consequentialism is a version of consequentialism, which is "one of the major theories of normative ethics Normative ethics is the study of ethical behaviour, and is the ...
, which prioritizes the reduction of suffering over the enhancement of happiness when speaking of utility: "I believe that there is, from the ethical point of view, no symmetry between suffering and happiness, or between pain and pleasure. (...) human suffering makes a direct moral appeal for help, while there is no similar call to increase the happiness of a man who is doing well anyway."
David PearceDave or David Pearce may refer to: *Dave Pearce (born 1963), British dance DJ and record producer *Dave Pearce (footballer) (born 1959), English former footballer *Dave L. Pearce (1904–1984), Louisiana state representative and state agriculture co ...
, for his part, advocates a utilitarianism that aims straightforwardly at the
abolition of suffering The eradication or abolition of suffering is the concept of using biotechnology to create a permanent absence of pain and suffering in all sentient beings. Biology and medicine The history of general anesthesia, discovery of modern anesthesia in ...
through the use of biotechnology (see more details below in section Biology, neurology, psychology). Another aspect worthy of mention here is that many utilitarians since Bentham hold that the moral status of a being comes from its ability to feel pleasure and pain: therefore, moral agents should consider not only the interests of human beings but also those of (other) animals. Richard Ryder came to the same conclusion in his concepts of 'speciesism' and 'painism'.
Peter Singer Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy) ...

Peter Singer
's writings, especially the book ''Animal Liberation'', represent the leading edge of this kind of utilitarianism for animals as well as for people. Another doctrine related to the relief of suffering is
humanitarianism Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organ ...
(see also
humanitarian principles There are a number of meanings for the term humanitarian. Here humanitarian pertains to the practice of saving lives and alleviating suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated ...
,
humanitarian aid Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to people who need help. It is usually short-term help until the long-term help by the government and other institutions replaces it. Among the people in need are the homeless Home ...
, and
humane society A humane society is a group that aims to stop cruelty to animals. In many countries, the term is used mostly for societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA). In the United Kingdom, and historically in the United States, such socie ...
). "Where humanitarian efforts seek a positive addition to the happiness of sentient beings, it is to make the unhappy happy rather than the happy happier. (...) umanitarianismis an ingredient in many social attitudes; in the modern world it has so penetrated into diverse movements (...) that it can hardly be said to exist in itself."
Pessimists
Pessimists
hold this world to be mainly bad, or even the worst possible, plagued with, among other things, unbearable and unstoppable suffering. Some identify suffering as the nature of the world and conclude that it would be better if life did not exist at all.
Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (; ; 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citize ...
recommends us to take refuge in things like art, philosophy, loss of the
will to live The will to live or ''Wille zum Leben'' is a concept developed by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (; ; 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a Germans, German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 ...
, and tolerance toward 'fellow-sufferers'.
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as thos ...

Friedrich Nietzsche
, first influenced by Schopenhauer, developed afterward quite another attitude, arguing that the suffering of life is productive, exalting the
will to power The will to power (german: der Wille zur Macht) is a prominent concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. The will to power describes what Friedrich Nietzsche, Nietzsche may have believed to be the main driving force in humans. However, the ...
, despising weak compassion or pity, and recommending us to embrace willfully the '
eternal return Eternal return (also known as eternal recurrence) is a concept that the universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy ...
' of the greatest sufferings. Philosophy of pain is a philosophical speciality that focuses on physical
pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The International Association for the Study of Pain The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is an international learned society A learned societ ...
and is, through that, relevant to suffering in general.


Religion

Suffering plays an important role in a number of religions, regarding matters such as the following: consolation or relief; moral conduct (do no harm, help the afflicted, show
compassion Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves. Compassion is often regarded as having sensitivity, which is an emotional aspect of suffering. Though, when based on ...
); spiritual advancement through life hardships or through self-imposed trials (
mortification of the flesh Mortification of the flesh is an act by which an individual or group seeks to mortify or deaden their sinful nature, as a part of the process of sanctification Sanctification or in its verb form, sanctify, literally means "to set apart for spe ...
,
penance Penance is any act or a set of actions done out of repentance Repentance is reviewing one's actions and feeling contritionIn Christianity, contrition or contriteness (from the Latin ''contritus'' 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt) is ...
,
asceticism Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for thei ...
); ultimate destiny (
salvation Salvation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in re ...

salvation
,
damnation Damnation (from Latin '' damnatio'') is the concept of divine punishment Divine judgment means the judgment of God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, der ...

damnation
,
hell In religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may o ...

hell
).
Theodicy Theodicy () means vindication of God. It is to answer the question of why a good God permits the manifestation of evil, thus resolving the issue of the problem of evil. Some theodicies also address the evidential problem of evil by attempting "t ...
deals with the
problem of evil The problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil Evil, in a general sense, is defined by what it is not—the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, although in everyday usage it is ...
, which is the difficulty of reconciling the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent god with the existence of evil: a quintessential form of evil, for many people, is extreme suffering, especially in innocent children, or in creatures destined to an eternity of torments (see
problem of hell The problem of Hell is an ethical problem in religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, san ...
). The '
Four Noble Truths In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditi ...
' of Buddhism are about dukkha, a term often translated as suffering. They state the nature of suffering, its cause, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation, the
Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Eightfold Path (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the ''Pāli Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection ...
. Buddhism considers liberation from ''dukkha'' and the practice of compassion ( karuna) as basic for leading a holy life and attaining
nirvana ' (, , ; sa, निर्वाण} ''nirvāṇa'' ; Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples sp ...

nirvana
. Hinduism holds that suffering follows naturally from personal negative behaviors in one's current life or in a past life (see
karma in Hinduism Karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. For the believers in spirituality The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alon ...
). One must accept suffering as a just consequence and as an opportunity for spiritual progress. Thus the soul or true self, which is eternally free of any suffering, may come to manifest itself in the person, who then achieves liberation (
moksha ''Moksha'' (; sa, मोक्ष, '; Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native ...

moksha
). Abstinence from causing pain or harm to other beings, called
ahimsa Ahimsa (also spelled ''Ahinsa'') (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. I ...

ahimsa
, is a central tenet of Hinduism, and even more so of another Indian religion, Jainism (see
ahimsa in Jainism ''Ahinsā'' (', alternatively spelled 'ahinsa', Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...
). In Judaism, suffering is often seen as a punishment for sins and a test of a person's faith, like the
Book of Job The Book of Job (; he, אִיּוֹב – ''ʾIyyōḇ'') is a book of the Hebrew Bible. It addresses the problem of theodicy, meaning why God permits evil in the world, through the experiences of the eponymous protagonist. Job (biblic ...
illustrates. For Christianity, redemptive suffering is the belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for sins and allow to grow in the love of God, others and oneself. In Islam, the faithful must endure suffering with hope and faith, not resist or ask why, accept it as Allah's will and submit to it as a test of faith. Allah never asks more than can be endured. One must also work to alleviate the suffering of others, as well as one's own. Suffering is also seen as a blessing. Through that gift, the sufferer remembers God and connects with him. Suffering expunges the sins of human beings and cleanses their soul for the immense reward of the afterlife, and the avoidance of hell. According to the Bahá'í Faith, all suffering is a brief and temporary manifestation of physical life, whose source is the material aspects of physical existence, and often attachment to them, whereas only joy exists in the spiritual worlds.


Arts and literature

Artistic and literary works often engage with suffering, sometimes at great cost to their creators or performers. Th
Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database
offers a list of such works under the categories art, film, literature, and theater. Be it in the tragic, comic or other genres, art and literature offer means to alleviate (and perhaps also exacerbate) suffering, as argued for instance in Harold Schweizer's ''Suffering and the remedy of art''. This Brueghel painting is among those that inspired W. H. Auden's poem Musée des Beaux Arts: ''About suffering they were never wrong,''
''The Old Masters; how well, they understood''
''Its human position; how it takes place''
''While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;''
''(...)''
''In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away''
''Quite leisurely from the disaster; (...)''


Social sciences

''Social suffering'', according to Arthur Kleinman and others, describes "collective and individual human suffering associated with life conditions shaped by powerful social forces". Such suffering is an increasing concern in medical anthropology, ethnography, mass media analysis, and Holocaust studies, says Iain Wilkinson, who is developing a sociology of suffering. The ''
Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential The ''Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential'' is published by the Union of International Associations (UIA). It is available online since 2000, and was previously available as a CD-ROM and as a three-volume book. The online Encycloped ...
'' is a work by the
Union of International Associations The Union of International Associations (UIA) is a non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collect ...
. Its main databases are about world problems (56,564 profiles), global strategies and solutions (32,547 profiles), human values (3,257 profiles), and human development (4,817 profiles). It states that "the most fundamental entry common to the core parts is that of pain (or suffering)" and "common to the core parts is the learning dimension of new understanding or insight in response to suffering". Ralph G.H. Siu, an American author, urged in 1988 the "creation of a new and vigorous academic discipline, called panetics, to be devoted to the study of the infliction of suffering", The International Society for Panetics was founded in 1991 to study and develop ways to reduce the infliction of human suffering by individuals acting through professions, corporations, governments, and other social groups. In economics, the following notions relate not only to the matters suggested by their positive appellations, but to the matter of suffering as well:
Well-being or Quality of life
Well-being or Quality of life
,
Welfare economics Welfare economics is a branch of economics that uses microeconomic Microeconomics is a branch of mainstream economics Mainstream economics is the body of knowledge, theories, and models of economics, as taught by universities worldwide, tha ...
,
Happiness economics The economics of happiness or happiness economics is the theoretical, qualitative and quantitative study of happiness The term ''happiness'' is used in the context of Mental health, mental or emotional states, including positive or Pleasu ...
,
Gross National Happiness Gross National Happiness (GNH), sometimes called Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH), is a philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity t ...
, Genuine Progress Indicator. In law, "
Pain and suffering Pain and suffering is the legal term for the physical and emotional Stress (medicine), stress caused from an injury (see also pain and suffering). Some damages that might come under this category would be: aches, temporary and permanent limitati ...
" is a legal term that refers to the mental distress or physical pain endured by a plaintiff as a result of injury for which the plaintiff seeks redress. Assessments of pain and suffering are required to be made for attributing legal awards. In the Western world these are typical made by juries in a discretionary fashion and are regarded as subjective, variable, and difficult to predict, for instance in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. See also, in US law,
Negligent infliction of emotional distress The tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used ...
and
Intentional infliction of emotional distress Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED; sometimes called the tort of outrage) is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
. In management and organization studies, drawing on the work of Eric Cassell, suffering has been defined as the distress a person experiences when they perceive a threat to any aspect of their continued existence, whether physical, psychological, or social. Other researchers have noted that suffering results from an inability to control actions that usually define one's view of one's self and that the characteristics of suffering include the loss of autonomy, or the loss of valued relationships or sense of self. Suffering is therefore determined not by the threat itself but, rather, by its meaning to the individual and the threat to their personhood.


Biology, neurology, psychology

Suffering and
pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain or suffering, which are forms of feeling bad. It is closely related to value, desire and action: humans and other conscious animals ...
are respectively the negative and positive affects, or hedonic tones, or valences that psychologists often identify as basic in our emotional lives. The evolutionary role of physical and mental suffering, through natural selection, is primordial: it warns of threats, motivates
coping Coping is conscious or unconscious strategies used to reduce unpleasant emotions. Coping strategies can be cognitions or behaviours and can be individual or social. Theories of coping Hundreds of coping strategies have been identified. Classifi ...
( fight or flight,
escapism Escapism is mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life Everyday life, daily life or routine life comprises the ways in which people typically act, think, and feel on a daily basis. Everyday life may be described as ...
), and
reinforce In Behaviorism, behavioral psychology, reinforcement is a Operant conditioning#Tools and procedures of operant conditioning, consequence applied that will strengthen an organism's future behavior whenever that behavior is preceded by a specific ...
s negatively certain behaviors (see
punishment Punishment, commonly, is the imposition of an undesirable or unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of soci ...
,
aversives In psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in t ...
). Despite its initial disrupting nature, suffering contributes to the organization of meaning in an individual's world and psyche. In turn, meaning determines how individuals or societies experience and deal with suffering. Many brain structures and physiological processes are involved in suffering (particularly the
anterior insula The insular cortex (also insula and insular lobe) is a portion of the cerebral cortex The cerebral cortex, also known as the cerebral mantle, is the outer layer of neural tissue of the cerebrum of the brain A brain is an organ (anatomy), org ...
and
cingulate cortex The cingulate cortex is a part of the brain situated in the medial aspect of the cerebral cortex. The cingulate cortex includes the entire cingulate gyrus, which lies immediately above the corpus callosum, and the continuation of this in the ci ...

cingulate cortex
, both implicated in nociceptive and empathic pain). Various hypotheses try to account for the experience of suffering. One of these, the ''pain overlap theory'' takes note, thanks to neuroimaging studies, that the cingulate cortex fires up when the brain feels suffering from experimentally induced social distress or physical pain as well. The theory proposes therefore that physical pain and social pain (i.e. two radically differing kinds of suffering) share a common phenomenological and neurological basis. According to
David PearceDave or David Pearce may refer to: *Dave Pearce (born 1963), British dance DJ and record producer *Dave Pearce (footballer) (born 1959), English former footballer *Dave L. Pearce (1904–1984), Louisiana state representative and state agriculture co ...
’s online manifesto "The Hedonistic Imperative," suffering is the avoidable result of Darwinian genetic design. Pearce promotes replacing the pain/pleasure axis with a robot-like response to noxious stimuli or with gradients of bliss, through
genetic engineering Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or genetic manipulation, is the direct manipulation of an organism's gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_in ...
and other technical scientific advances. Hedonistic psychology,
affective science Affective science is the scientific study of emotion Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent ...
, and
affective neuroscience Affective neuroscience is the study of the neural mechanisms of emotion Emotions are biological states associated with all of the nerve systems brought on by neurophysiological changes variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural ...
are some of the emerging scientific fields that could in the coming years focus their attention on the phenomenon of suffering.


Health care

Disease and injury may contribute to suffering in humans and animals. For example, suffering may be a feature of mental or physical illness such as
borderline personality disorder Borderline personality disorder (BPD), also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), is a mental illness A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that ...
and occasionally in . Health care addresses this suffering in many ways, in subfields such as medicine, clinical psychology, psychotherapy, alternative medicine, hygiene, public health, and through various health care providers. However..."If people feel unhappy when burdened by negative life events, this is no mental disorder, but “healthy suffering” . It is of great importance not to medicalize such everyday problems." Health care approaches to suffering, however, remain problematic. Physician and author Eric Cassell, widely cited on the subject of attending to the suffering person as a primary goal of medicine, has defined suffering as "the state of severe distress associated with events that threaten the intactness of the person". Cassell writes: "The obligation of physicians to relieve human suffering stretches back to antiquity. Despite this fact, little attention is explicitly given to the problem of suffering in medical education, research or practice." Mirroring the traditional body and mind dichotomy that underlies its teaching and practice, medicine strongly distinguishes
pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The International Association for the Study of Pain The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is an international learned society A learned societ ...
from suffering, and most attention goes to the treatment of pain. Nevertheless, physical pain itself still lacks adequate attention from the medical community, according to numerous reports. Besides, some medical fields like palliative care, pain management, pain management (or pain medicine), oncology, or psychiatry, do somewhat address suffering 'as such'. In palliative care, for instance, pioneer Cicely Saunders created the concept of 'total pain' ('total suffering' say now the textbooks), which encompasses the whole set of physical and mental distress, discomfort, symptoms, problems, or needs that a patient may experience hurtfully.


Mental illness

Gary Greenberg, in ''The Book of Woe'', writes that mental illness might best be viewed as medicalization or labeling/naming suffering (i.e. that all mental illnesses might not necessarily be of dysfunction or biological-etiology, but might be social or cultural/societal).


Relief and prevention in society

Since suffering is such a universal motivating experience, people, when asked, can relate their activities to its relief and prevention. Farmers, for instance, may claim that they prevent famine, artists may say that they take our minds off our worries, and teachers may hold that they hand down tools for coping with life hazards. In certain aspects of collective life, however, suffering is more readily an explicit concern by itself. Such aspects may include public health, human rights,
humanitarian aid Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to people who need help. It is usually short-term help until the long-term help by the government and other institutions replaces it. Among the people in need are the homeless Home ...
, disaster relief, philanthropy, economic aid, social services, insurance, and animal welfare. To these can be added the aspects of security and safety, which relate to precautionary measures taken by individuals or families, to interventions by the military, the police, the firefighters, and to notions or fields like social security, environmental security, and human security. The nongovernmental research organization Center on Long-Term Risk, formerly known as the Foundational Research Institute, focuses on reducing risks of astronomical suffering (s-risks) from emerging technologies. Another organization also focused on research, the Center on Reducing Suffering, has a similar focus, with a stress on clarifying what priorities there should be at a practical level to attain the goal of reducing intense suffering in the future.


Uses

Philosopher Leonard Katz wrote: "But Nature, as we now know, regards ultimately only fitness and not our happiness (...), and does not scruple to use hate, fear, punishment and even war alongside affection in ordering social groups and selecting among them, just as she uses pain as well as pleasure to get us to feed, water and protect our bodies and also in forging our social bonds." People make use of suffering for specific social or personal purposes in many areas of human life, as can be seen in the following instances: * In arts, literature, or entertainment, people may use suffering for creation, for performance, or for enjoyment. Entertainment particularly makes use of suffering in blood sports and Violence#Media, violence in the media, including Video game controversy, violent video games depiction of suffering. A more or less great amount of suffering is involved in body art. The most common forms of body art include tattooing, body piercing, scarification, human branding. Another form of body art is a sub-category of performance art, in which for instance the body is mutilated or pushed to its physical limits. * In business and various organizations, suffering may be used for constraining humans or animals into required behaviors. * In a criminal context, people may use suffering for coercion, revenge, or pleasure. * In interpersonal relationships, especially in places like families, schools, or workplaces, suffering is used for various motives, particularly under the form of abuse and punishment. In another fashion related to interpersonal relationships, the sick, or victims, or malingering, malingerers, may use suffering more or less voluntarily to get Primary gain, primary, secondary, or tertiary gain. * In law, suffering is used for punishment (see penal law ); victims may refer to what legal texts call "pain and suffering" to get compensation; lawyers may use a victim's suffering as an argument against the accused; an accused's or defendant's suffering may be an argument in their favor; authorities at times use light or heavy torture in order to get information or a confession. * In the news media, suffering is often the raw material. * In personal conduct, people may use suffering for themselves, in a positive way. Personal suffering may lead, if bitterness, depression, or spitefulness is avoided, to character-building, spiritual growth, or moral achievement; realizing the extent or gravity of suffering in the world may motivate one to relieve it and may give an inspiring direction to one's life. Alternatively, people may make self-detrimental use of suffering. Some may be caught in compulsive reenactment of painful feelings in order to protect them from seeing that those feelings have their origin in unmentionable past experiences; some may addictively indulge in disagreeable emotions like fear, anger, or jealousy, in order to enjoy pleasant feelings of arousal or release that often accompany these emotions; some may engage in acts of self-harm aimed at relieving otherwise unbearable states of mind. * In politics, there is purposeful infliction of suffering in war, torture, and terrorism; people may use nonphysical suffering against competitors in nonviolent power struggles; people who argue for a policy may put forward the need to relieve, prevent or avenge suffering; individuals or groups may use past suffering as a political lever in their favor. * In religion, suffering is used especially to grow spiritually, to expiate, to inspire compassion and help, to frighten, to punish. * In rites of passage (see also hazing, ragging), rituals that make use of suffering are frequent. * In science, humans and animals are subjected on purpose to aversive experiences for the study of suffering or other phenomena. * In sex, especially in a context of sadism and masochism or BDSM, individuals may use a certain amount of physical or mental suffering (e.g. pain, humiliation). * In sports, suffering may be used to outperform competitors or oneself; see sports injury, and no pain, no gain; see also blood sport and violence in sport as instances of pain-based entertainment.


See also


Selected bibliography

* Joseph A. Amato. ''Victims and Values: A History and a Theory of Suffering.'' New York: Praeger, 1990. * James Davies. ''The Importance of Suffering: the value and meaning of emotional discontent''. London: Routledge * * Cynthia Halpern. ''Suffering, Politics, Power: a Genealogy in Modern Political Theory.'' Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002. * Jamie Mayerfeld. ''Suffering and Moral Responsibility.'' New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. * Thomas Metzinger.
Suffering
''In Kurt Almqvist & Anders Haag (2017)[eds.], The Return of Consciousness. Stockholm: Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation. * David B. Morris. ''The Culture of Pain.'' Berkeley: University of California, 2002. * Elaine Scarry. ''The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World.'' New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. * * Ronald Anderson. ''World Suffering and Quality of Life'', Social Indicators Research Series, Volume 56, 2015. ; Also: ''Human Suffering and Quality of Life'', SpringerBriefs in Well-Being and Quality of Life Research, 2014.


References

{{Authority control Suffering, Feeling Pain Social issues ml:വേദന ckb:ئازار