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Applying Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics to Pain Science Education

“Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.”

I haven’t read this book, published in 1677, supposedly a classic Enlightenment Era Philosophy manuscript. I use notes and reminders in my phone constantly—this quote has been an inspiration and reminder in my phone to share in an article for some time. I don’t remember where I found a reference to this, likely a podcast or TED talk.

This piece of wisdom is yet another rationale for Pain Science education of SOME SORT, in EVERY interaction with a client who is in pain or suffering. As the prevailing definition of Pain is, “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage” (1) Read more HERE, it is extremely useful to consider for physical pain rehabilitation, many approaches in psychotherapy that involve identifying, defining, accepting, and thus becoming aware of emotions experienced.

Learning about our emotional experiences, and pain would fit into that category, acknowledging and forming an understanding, can INSTANTLY diminish the power and weight of the suffering associated. I say “learning,” not talking necessarily, because there are many different ways clients may feel most comfortable learning about pain science. Asking questions or trying to talk about it with certain clients may cause them to completely shut down. I have learned, the very question of “How do you define pain?” may put some people on the defensive. Some people have a VERY hard time having their beliefs challenged. Does that mean they should be precluded from receiving pain science education?

I have first referred many people to Lorimer Mosely’s TED Talk on Pain, to introduce pain science with a bit of humour and gauge their openness to learning about pain.

In Health Care and Medicine, I think it is absolutely absurd, that there is not more conversation around pain and suffering. Why is this the elephant in the room? It is WHY people are coming for help!

There are several excellent free resources to have available in your clinic, or for you to check out.


If you are a DIY, learn about it on your own kinda person:

In Print or E-book:

Greg Lehman’s Pain Workbook from Greglehman.ca

Resources from NOI Group






1. https://www.iasp-pain.org/terminology?navItemNumber=576#Pain


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