What are some of the things that can influence the way we experience pain?  

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Pain is something that forms part of all of our lives. However, when thinking about it more closely, it soon becomes apparent that pain is not necessarily experienced in the same way by everybody.

Firstly, there are some medical conditions that can influence the level at which pain is experienced. The most extreme version of this is congenital analgesia, a condition where a person is unable to feel any physical pain. Various conditions affecting the nervous system of the body can also have an effect on how physical pain is processed by the brain and therefore on how pain is experienced by an individual.

However, there are further, less drastic, factors, which influence how pain is experienced. For example, if a person is distracted, pain is often perceived to be less strong than if a person has time to focus on the pain. In fact, it is known that focusing on pain can actually make the perceived level of pain worse.

Another fact that influences the experience of pain is the reaction of the people around us. This can be observed most obviously when looking at the behavior of young children. One can often observe that when a young child falls and hurts itself, providing it has not seriously hurt itself, the child will not necessarily start to cry immediately. Instead, it is common for children to first look around and gage the reactions of the people around them. If their mother or father reacts to their fall with a verbal or visual expression of fear or anxiety, then the child will most likely start to cry and feel the pain a lot more strongly. However, if the parent, or the bystanders, don’t pay much attention to the incident and instead react calmly and reassuringly, then the child is more likely to not pay as much attention to the incident itself. As a result, it will be less bothered by any pain resulting from this.

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