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Humbling kidney stones

 •  • by Paul Ingraham

Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Every guru of mind-body medicine — every “influencer” who has exaggerated the power of the mind, especially over pain, giving people false hope — deserves a good humbling by kidney stones.

Or gall stones. Or calcific tendinitis. Or gout. Or a tooth abscess. Or complex regional pain syndrome. And so on.

This is a bit tongue-in-cheek, some exaggeration for effect: probably literally no one believes in any kind of mind-powered analgesia for such notoriously savage and/or acute pains. But there are certainly many who profit from the idea that most chronic pain is something you can beat with various flavours willpower and mindfulness. And those people deserve humbling.

There certainly is such a thing as blunting pain with psychological sorcery and neurological “hacks,” but it also isn’t easy, straightforward, practical, or predictable, and it will fail in many kinds of cases.

For my best efforts at realistic, practical mind-over-pain ideas, see Mind Over Pain. Definitely not exaggerating the potential! No humbling kidney stones please!

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