But what, exactly, is pain? How does it work? Does it feel the same for you as it does for your asshole neighbor, Gary? If you both hurt the same, isn't that unfair, because he deserves way worse? If you have trouble coming up with answers to those questions, don't feel bad -- science can't answer them either. From the eggheads who study pain to the researchers who design the drugs to treat it and the doctors who prescribe them to you, none of them can even agree on a single definition of what the hell pain is.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this is to look at fibromyalgia, a medical condition best described as "MY EVERYTHING HURTS." There are no physical tests to confirm whether you have it -- no brain scan or blood test or spirit medium can confirm your condition. So how do they diagnose it? Well, you fill out a questionnaire. Do you have lots of unexplained pain in various parts of your body that doctors can't figure out? Yes? Boom: fibromyalgia. Or possibly demonic possession. Maaaybe aliens.
"Oh, sure. Just assume it's the guy with an anal probe."
The FDA has approved drugs to treat Fibby G because they seem to help, but no one really knows why or even if it's actually a thing. But this is the era of science fiction come to life: Surely there's some kind of high-tech brain scan doctors can use to determine when you're in pain. Indeed, doctors say there are differences in the brain scans of people with fibromyalgia, but there's nothing consistent from patient to patient -- no doctor can peek inside your skull theater and definitively say that you have the condition. Actually, no doctor can tell how much pain you're in at all, because we've only just recently taken the first baby steps toward figuring out how to detect pain in a person's brain activity. According to Tor Wager, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU-Boulder and probable Star Wars character: "Right now, there's no clinically acceptable way to measure pain and other emotions other than to ask a person how they feel."
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"Somewhere between 'oxycodone' and 'shit-tons of oxycodone.'"