Your Pain Matrix
Remember that final fight scene from The Matrix? The one when Neo is able to see the world for the hologram it is? What if I told you that is how your mind sees your body?! Okay, not exactly, but pretty close. Most of us have been taught the Cartesian model of pain. This theory concludes that pain results directly from tissue damage and in proportion to the extent of the injury. As research has progressed and we have struggled to explain phenomena such as chronic low back pain and phantom limb syndrome, it has become clear that this simple cause and effect assumption cannot completely explain our sensory experiences. Enter the Neuromatrix! By incorporating what we now know about how psychology influences pain perception, how nerves relay signals to the brain, and the important role the central nervous system plays in interpreting and emphasizing peripheral nervous system signals, Ronald Melzack develop and proposed this theory in 1965. Essentially, the neuromatrix is the image our minds hold of our bodies which is built on all of the sensory inputs (temperature, pressure, orientation, etc.) that ar
e happening simultaneously at any given instant combined with previous experiences that allow us to determine our place in time and space. When this image is unbalanced through initial tissue damage, perceived tissue damage, or the memory/anticipation thereof, we experience pain. For a more detailed and more technically accurate description, check out Pain (2012), an article which outlines the biological functions of pain as well as the neuromatrix theory.