If it's only a matter of self-deceit, then why can't we all "self-deceit" ourselves free of pain?
It's not only a matter of self deceit. I can see at least 3 causes of pain exist:
- Nerves somewhere in the body are stimulated (for instance because they're damaged) and send (pain) signals to the brain. The brain interpretes this as pain. This is what happens when you have a wound.
- Nerves go missing and stop sending any signals at all. The brain makes up for this and starts inventing pain. This is the phantom pain I mentioned. It's probably similar to the ring we 'hear' when some of the hairs in your inner ear are damaged: your brain makes up the ringing sound because it doesn't yet know how to interpret the missing signals.
- Our feelings/emotions (which are just brain chemistry) influence our brain to aggravate or even invent pain.
Of course 1 can be a result of stress caused by 3, and vice versa. There are probably more causes as well.
But for me, the most important thing is that neither of the 3 causes makes the pain less real.
The treatment may be different, but there should be no labeling like 'this guy's pain is brain-only, so he should just shut up about it'. Just because the brain interprets pain without nerves actually firing pain signals doesn't mean it's just imagined pain.
That looking in a mirror can take away real pain is intriguing. That being gently touched for a second can take away real pain is intriguing as well.
Anyway, like you I think it's very interesting stuff. Given that our bodies are most likely hacked together by adapting existing functions to new environments over many millions of years, I wouldn't be surprised if some functionality we officially don't possess is still available to some.
Such as the possibility to sense (even very weak) electrical fields, as some other animals can do.
And our bodies may be much more internally connected and less function-separated than we assume. Already studies are suggesting that our gut is a 'second brain'....sending many signals to our brains, and likely being a main source of emotions. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/#
Jup. Interesting stuff.