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Why Emotional Pain Should Be Public Business

We have so many examples of mishandled pain.  How are we going to address the problem?  When are we going to ask, why is this occurring and what we can do about it?

News about people shooting each other is so common now that many times it seems just part of the human landscape.  Often what follows is a public rationalization of the violence and the actions of the shooter: …probably couldn’t take it… …sounds like a bad person… …I would never do that…  And so it goes. Eventually, we move on to other things claiming our attention.

When we hear of a young person opening fire at a school killing others, we assume that we are dealing with a “bad” person.  On so many occasions we hear of an individual who had been abused opening fire on others. Too often, abuse and neglect were a part of the relationship between the shooter and the victim(s) until the shooter and the victim change roles.

We expect people to put up with social abuse as if it does not cause pain. Recent research would indicate otherwise. According to the February 24, 2012 article in Medical News Today ” Naomi Eisenberger of the University of California-Los Angeles, the author of a new paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, physical pain and social pain are processed in some of the same regions of the brain.”

This means that the person who is being abused or bullied is feeling physical pain whenever the abuse occurs.  The individual who is rejected repeatedly for being different is experiencing more physical pain with each negative experience.

The human body has the capacity to process experiences and “digest” them. However, when we become overloaded the ability to process and digest experiences can break down. We all have limits that need to be respected.

For a very long time, social pain has been treated as a problem in the individual.  It has been a way to make social ranking, social rejection and other forms of social abuse unimportant at the institutional level. We are paying a high price for our willful ignorance.

Denying social pain makes survival an individual matter and the well being of an individual also the problem of the individual.  Making people responsible for their well being is not intrinsically bad.  However, when the individual is in an environment where well being is not possible, then they are caught in an untenable situation.

I think we have let our institutions off the hook for too long.  If it is not the job of institutions to create conditions that promote well being, what are they here for? I think it is time we asked ourselves and our institutions that question.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.

5 Comments

  1. Hendrik de Wilde on April 30, 2018 at 5:03 am

    Books are good but alas usually only reach the converted…But indeed , witnessing abuse, as the homeless on the street in rich countries, is itself a form of abuse, i.e. invisible physical suffering. Worth bringing up in humane po;itical contexts, for sure! And, of course, scholls, ages 15 plus.. Thank you Maria Hill.



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