Hurts Like Heaven: Pain and the Facilitation of Transcendence
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Though Western biomedicine rarely acknowledges it, pain can be a positive experience. In unrelated cultures across the globe, pain has been used to catalyze transcendence, a biologically measurable spiritual phenomenon. Like intense meditative thought, pain can provide the focus necessary to disassociate from the self and feel connected to God, a cross-cultural phenomenon that is physically visible through decreased blood flow to the parietal lobe. This may explain why patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome report disassociation from the body during times of incredible pain, as well as why patients turn to God during and following bodily trauma (Reedjik et al. 2008).