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- 22 04 2002 - 11:35 - katatonik

theory and pain

”...There’s very little evidence of a positive correlation between anybody’s psychological or philosophical theories and their capacity as a parent. Not because their theories are good or bad, but just because parenting is such a difficult task.

I can think of some trivial – or perhaps not so trivial – cases from my own experience. One that I’m rather proud of occurred when my daughter was a little girl of about five. She was doing acrobatics on the piano stool, and it fell and crushed some of her fingers. She was not only in great pain but terrified, almost hysterical. I realized I had to do something to calm her down. I’d just finished my research on pain (for ‘Why You Can’t Make A Computer That Feels Pain’), and had an idea that I thought might work. So I tried it. I said to her, holding her crushed fingers close to the palm of my hand, ‘Andrea, here’s a secret. Push the pain into my hand! Quick! You can do it!’ And immediately she stopped crying, and a smile formed on her face. She had ‘pushed the pain into my hand’. This was a sort of impromptu hypnotic suggestion on my part that worked remarkably well. I told her, ‘If the pain starts coming back, push it back into my hand again’, which she did. Later, we left the pain on a wall. ‘We’ll leave it there’, I told her, ‘and go to the hospital.’ She was quite content to accept the theory. In her distraught state she wasn’t being very critical. But it does show that sometimes all it takes is a new theory to alter your consciousness quite dramatically. This seems to me to be a pretty good instance of it.”

Daniel Dennett, Interview.


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