What is the difference between pain and suffering, and what is the role of suffering in pain?
Suffering is a high level of distress that poses a danger to the patient’s view of their life. Pain almost always creates suffering. Each person’s conception of suffering is unique and relates to personal history, relationships, ideals, experiences, and life goals. Most patients with pain will have a feeling of loss—at times profound—at how their life has been changed by the burden of illness and the restrictions on how they wish to live. The suffering index is the degree to which the person is apart from the world that they once inhabited. Regaining a connection to the world and de-emphasis upon the body as the primary means of knowing and valuing the self can reduce suffering. The development of the ability to think about experience and understand it (in psychotherapy) can enlarge the patient’s ability to cope with pain.