In recent posts we’ve examined some of the troubles arising from an excessive focus on symptoms and how they’re commonly treated. What if we took a slightly different approach and concluded: When the body produces Symptoms, LISTEN; it is trying to say something. A telling example of this approach is in the treatment of pain.


The most prevalent and contemporary FIRST approaches to pain are:


  1. Analgesics, which remove the body’s capacity to “feel” the pain;
  2. Anti-inflammatories, which remove the body’s reaction to the injury, and therefore decrease the pain of the inflammation;
  3. Surgery, which severs the nerve pathway and permanently removes the pain sensation, and often the functioning of the part;
  4. Psychological therapies, which help the patient deal with the pain;
  5. Tolerance of pain, probably the saddest trend of all.

So many patients have experienced pain for such a long time that they’ve come to view it as normal or the way it’s meant to be for them. Pain is NOT normal.

American psychologist Ross Buck describes the qualities of a doctor as one who inspires in the patient a confidence in the patient’s own ability to heal. To be effective, the patient-doctor relationship is paramount. The doctor has to listen, the patient has to develop trust and the doctor has to use her own intuition.

The approach to pain, and symptoms generally, we’ve been discussing reveal a widespread failure to meet this lofty goal.