Our perception if the World is unique to us as our brain filters the incoming information and constructs what we experience. Where our attention goes will depend upon the importance, or salience, of the stimulus.
In pain, something biologically salient is happening, grabbing our attention via the unpleasant feeling that hurts, drawing our focus to a particular body part at any given moment. The salience is determined by the brain’s interpretation of events, the conclusion being that something is potentially dangerous and requires a response. Pain then, motivates an action that maybe to rub the body, move, not move, seek help or take a pain killer — something that reduces the threat and hence the pain.
But, as with all experiences, this is, and can only be our own, unique perception. As you will see from this brief talk, our perception is very limited in comparison to all the other things going on around us and beyond, yet we cannot possibly process the vast array if stimuli and the cues — internal and external. That is why the brain prioritises and biologically creates the best experience and set of multi-system responses. Of course in persisting pain and stress, these responses become easier and easier to evoke and need re-training.
RS — Specialist Pain Physio Clinics, London; treatment & training programmes for persisting pain & injury