Intolerable: Why Suffering Cannot Be Measured

A life 2023

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Intolerable: Why Suffering Cannot Be Measured
Intolerable: Why Suffering Cannot Be Measured
Video: Intolerable: Why Suffering Cannot Be Measured
Video: Однажды в Одессе — ЖИЗНЬ И ПРИКЛЮЧЕНИЯ МИШКИ ЯПОНЧИКА. ДРАМА НА РЕАЛЬНЫХ СОБЫТИЯХ! + ENGLISH SUB 2023, February
Anonim

MFew people would think to seriously discusswhether a person is not too pleased with some event: dismissal from an unloved job, a wedding, a long-awaited purchase - all this can bring pleasant emotions, and it would be strange to think that one reason is worthy of the other.

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Alexandra Savina

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Unfortunately, the situation is exactly the opposite. Our society, in principle, has a difficult attitude to the issue of grief - often a person in a difficult situation is advised to move on as soon as possible and “rejoice in what is,” devaluing already uneasy feelings. There is another common scheme - instead of support, remind others that others are doing even worse: the notorious "And in Africa, children are starving!" everyone has heard at least once in his life. Even if we put aside how often in our culture something completely different seems to be hidden behind support, there remains one more serious question: why do we, in principle, seek to compare the level of someone else's unhappiness? And is it possible to draw up a scale, ranking according to the severity of how this or that event affects us - from a stain on our favorite sweater to hunger and war?

Of course, scientists are trying to derive an objective scale for determining the level of suffering. But, for example, with physical pain, as the video explains with the promising question "What is more painful - giving birth or getting hit in the balls?" We always perceive it subjectively: a lot depends on the circumstances, our state and past experience - say, whether we have already encountered similar situations and sensations or more severe discomfort. Because of this, much about pain level cannot be measured universally. For example, in the seventies, scientists developed a ten-point scale, where 0 means comfortable, and 10 - unimaginably difficult. It is still used today in medical institutions, but this approach can lead to different results: what one patient will rate at four will be an unbearable eight for another. It is logical that the doctor cannot prescribe treatment only on the basis of subjective feelings - he will inquire in detail about the nature and characteristics of the sensations.

As with physical pain, researchers are also trying to find an understandable scale for our emotional state. There is, for example, the World Happiness Report, which has been issued by the United Nations since 2012. Its authors distribute countries according to the level of how their residents are satisfied with life, and for this they conduct a survey of how people themselves assess their own condition. In the report, the authors put this data into context: the researchers also indicate GDP per capita, life expectancy, freedom to make decisions, the level of social support in the state, the generosity of people and attitudes towards corruption. These data do not affect the final rating, but they help to understand why people in a certain country can feel this way and not differently - especially when the factors of happiness are graphically added to a scale. At the same time, of course, it is strange to think that individual happiness depends solely on the standard of living. Even in the most comfortable conditions, a person can feel unhappy - after all, low corruption and high GDP per capita cannot guarantee pleasure in the chosen profession or, for example, happy romantic relationships.

There are also techniques that help you understand how unhappy a person feels. One of the simplest and most famous is the Beck scale. This questionnaire was created in the sixties to measure the level of depression: it is based on the most common manifestations of this condition, such as feelings of hopelessness, irritability or decreased libido.But, of course, for talking about the level of happiness or unhappiness in general, the Beck scale is also hardly suitable: it is tuned to a specific diagnosis, and it is far from always possible to draw a parallel between it and general satisfaction with life.

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In addition, the diagnosis itself may not take into account the nuances and context in which a person lives. For example, Samah Jabr, chair of the mental health unit of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, believes that Western methods of assessing mental health are not suitable for Palestinians. “I doubt the methodology. I think they measure the psychological pain and suffering of society and call it depression,”she says. In her opinion, such techniques do not take into account the particular context of the trauma. “PTSD better describes the experience of an American soldier who went to bomb Iraq and returned to the safe United States,” said Samah Jabr. - He faces war-related nightmares and fears that have nothing to do with reality. But for Palestinians in Gaza, whose homes have been bombed, the fear of another attack is very real. This is not a figment of the imagination. There is no “post-” here, because the trauma repeats itself, continues and lasts a very long time. I think we need to be sincere in our feelings and not try to try on someone else's experience."

In general, this is true not only for talking about diagnosis. Unhappiness (and happiness) in general is very individual - even the most developed empathy will not allow us to feel exactly the same as the other person is experiencing. We can try on the depth of others' feelings for ourselves and compare them with our own experience, but this is unlikely to give us an unambiguous understanding of what others are facing.

A lot also depends on the context - and not only in the way the World Happiness Report presents it. Of course, the conditions in which a person lives affect his well-being: in a country with a stable economy, people will feel more comfortable and they will have fewer reasons to be afraid of tomorrow. But the same external circumstances create a homogeneous background for experiences, helping us to form our own ideas about the normal and familiar. It is unlikely that a person living in a port city will enjoy fresh seafood as much as a person in whose city there are no reservoirs.

It is not surprising, and that we estimate the scale of the catastrophe on the basis of what is familiar to us - or how much this usual order of things collapses. The fact that for one only a trifle that briefly knocks out of action may seem unbearable to another. Think, for example, how you were worried in childhood because your parents did not buy you some thing. It is unlikely that you are tormented by this today as much as before - but does this mean that the current feelings are more "real" than the feelings from the past? Can we assess how hard a person is going through this or that event, even if we ourselves have been in a similar situation? After all, exactly the situation cannot be repeated exactly - we are all in different circumstances and even approach the same life events with different resources and forces.

Be that as it may, pain and the level of suffering is hardly a cause for competition. In any case, it will turn out to be the saddest competition in the world.

PHOTOS: urbanoutfitters

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