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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Suffering:

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  • Add references to support what is being said, and use a consistent reference format throughout (see WP:REF).
  • Add new contents under political philosophy: Hobbes, Rousseau, Arendt...
  • Add new contents under religion: Luther, Calvin, Islam...
  • Add new contents under arts and litterature: examples of works...
  • Add new contents under biology: list of brain structures and physiological processes that take part in the occurrence of suffering
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Former good article nomineeSuffering was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
July 19, 2007Good article nomineeNot listed

Good article nomination failed

I am impressed with the breadth of coverage of this article, as many different perspectives on suffering are presented. However, the presentation is fragmented by too many lists and too many single sentence paragraphs. These should be turned into proper paragraphs which form part of a logical structure. I have therefore added a "List to prose" tag.

Also, there is not enough references to support what is being said, so I have also added a "More sources" tag. Please make sure that a consistent reference format is used throughout (see WP:REF).

In addition, the English expression needs to be tightened. Please read the article carefully several more times, making improvements where possible.

I wish you all the best with your editing... -- Johnfos 04:53, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Introduction and Article Structure[edit]

Hi Robert, how about we start with the definition and introduction. I would refine the opening sentences to:

Suffering is the subjective experience of mental or emotional distress, often associated with, but not synonymous with physical pain, instances of loss or difficult circumstances.

All human beings suffer during their lives, and therefore suffering has been a significant topic of discussion in philosophy and religion.

I'm aware that that doesn't say it all, so please add in what you think is necessary.

As far as structure of the article, what about four broad categories:

  • philosophical/religious/ethical perspectives
  • psychological aspects (coping, escapism, etc)
  • physiological aspects (this is really not my area - but I would put the neuroscience etc in here)
  • literary/artistic perspectives (include links to significant artistic works and endeavours that engage with suffering)

What do you think?

Equipoise 08:17, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Good categories, Equipoise! I would complete your list thus:

  • philosophical/religious/ethical perspectives
  • psychological and biological/physiological/neurological aspects (coping, escapism, physical pain and mental distress mechanisms, brain imaging, etc)
  • anthropological/social/legal/historical aspects
  • health care perspectives (medical or other approaches to body or mind problems inducing pain or suffering)
  • political/humanitarian/philanthropic perpectives (including disaster relief, human rights activism, economic development, social services, environmental concerns, etc.)
  • literary/artistic/media perspectives (including links to significant artistic works and endeavours that engage with suffering, and to works on media approaches to suffering)

Concerning the Introduction and definition, this is the hardest part! I like your paragraph on significance, and would expand it a little. But your definition raises an important difficulty. The present definition in the article, from I don't know who, is far from perfect, but I'd say it is on the good track. You go toward 'a mental not physical pain' view of suffering, and that is a big big problem : at what point do you suffer from a tooth, let's say? As soon as it is unpleasant, I would say. Then, pain is suffering as soon as it is unpleasant. So there is suffering, and pain is just one form of it, like anxiety is one form of it. There is ambiguity on the use of the word suffering, sometimes it means mental distress, sometimes it means everything unpleasant. Same thing for pain: sometimes it means physical hurt, sometimes mental hurt. So, maybe we should begin by straigthening this out...

Robert Daoust 19:46, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I like the addition of the anthropological/etc and the political/etc categories. I wonder though whether we're best to keep the personal/psychological and the biological/neurological separate. Not merely because of the distinction between social and natural sciences, but merely because most people cope with suffering without reference to a deep understanding of the physiological aspects of their experience. Under psychological/personal, I would include responses such as addictive behaviours, escapism, guilt patterns, etc. Equipoise 02:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Good point re the distinction between suffering and pain. I would define suffering as the subjective response to the objective experience. So, a pin prick may cause pain (an objective neural event), but not necessarily suffering. Likewise, financial loss, such as caused by a stock market crash, is an objective event - suffering is the human response to it. By separating out the objective and subjective, I don't mean to say that it is a choice to experience suffering from an instance of pain or loss, merely that the two are not synonymous - the causal relationship is more complicated. Equipoise 02:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Separate psycho from bio, sure... On definition, suffering is subjective, yes. but pain cannot be defined as an objective neural event (or then so can be suffering), as every pain scientist will tell you. The pin prick is an 'objective event' but what if it is on a dead body... Events and emotions are two different categories, and I am afraid that defining one by having recourse to the other is like defining an orange by its price on the market... I will come back tomorrow with a tentative definition, so that you will be able to agree or disagree on it... By the way, I reordered this page, because I had some problems finding your last messages... Robert Daoust 23:01, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

New Introduction is offered. The word 'uses' refers to what should be another of our categories:

  • uses of suffering in politics (war, torture), law (penology), crime, interpersonal relationships (abuses in family, in the workplace), performance {sports (athletes), arts (ballerine, creators,…), business (workers, managers)…

Robert Daoust 21:57, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Suffering as an Emotion[edit]

The article states that suffering, by definition, includes an emotion of unhappiness or something similar, and states that suffering in and of itself is an emotion. I would strongly disagree with this - while suffering would likely make someone unhappy, I would not call suffering an emotion. I suggest that the article be changed to reflect this, and that it be removed from the category of emotions. -Lommer 04:07, 10 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I think Lommer might have something there. Suffering seems to transend emotion. It is less of an understanding and more of a state. Stargoat 06:30, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Suffering is said to be an emotion, but see Emotion : this is not clear, suffering is also a 'feeling'. But all this is a question of definition. Pain also is an emotion according to the definition of the International Association for the Study of Pain. -[[User:Robert

What a load of crap. Please explain what you mean by stating that suffering is not an emotion. What is it and what evidence/academic work can you provide to support this statement. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:08, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Suffering and the Brain[edit]

Neuroscience has now pretty well isolated the "suffering centre of the brain". It's the anterior cingulate cortex (or gyrus). It fires up if a healthy person gets a dagger between the ribs, like several other centres (eg. primary and secondary somatosensory cortices and dorsal anterior insula) but, unlike these, it fires up when you recieve a rejection cue too. That is, the anterior cingulate cortex is active in the presence of both physical and socially inflicted suffering. Would it be appropriate for someone to contribute an essay on the neuroscience of suffering, do you think?

--Anthony Cole 19:40, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

Hi Tony. I noticed your correction about the insula. You removed however the banner about factual accuracy : I believe it has to be there because the pain overlap theory is much too recent. Anyway, the neuroscience section on suffering should be a lot more developed, shouldn't it? --Robert Daoust 17:03, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
Hi Robert. I completely agree. I'll try to interest someone who really knows about this stuff.



Aren't "suffering" and "boredom" quite different? - David Stewart 09:14 28 May 2003 (UTC)

Well, it is some mild kind of suffering. Since we do not have much text about it I thought a separate article was not needed, for now. - Patrick 10:04 28 May 2003 (UTC)
It is a subject of psychological study eg. and It causes dogs to chase tails, rats to go mad, birds to pick their feathers, and crime amongst humans. Would have though it deserved its own topic! -David Stewart 11:10 28 May 2003 (UTC)
I did not mean that it does not deserve a separate article. Please go ahead, write more about it. - Patrick 11:17 28 May 2003 (UTC)


Question: Why do we cry when we are sad? What happens physiologically to cause crying and what is the evolutionary purpose to tears?kpa

I've seen sad in the "uncool" sense linking here. Does that need a separate article, or is there somewhere I could redirect the link to? 17:47, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

This "sadness = suffering" is anti-Western. Is sadness a Western cultural artifact? What about redirecting to grief or to despair? There seems to be enough consensus here to merit a new approach to sadness.


Do we not need to include something on the 3 different types of suffering - deliberate accidental and natural?


I am looking for at least one collaborator in order to bring eventually a major edit to this article.--Robert Daoust 21:38, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

Suffering makes man think [Proverb]

Old Japanese saying in the Inn of the sixth Happiness see Wisdom -- 20:51, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

Suffer = allow

Shouldn't there be something in here about how the word suffer can also mean allow, such as in 'suffrage' ? .. perhaps how the words are related? How the meaning changed?

Suffering is a tool, suffering is a means

Just for the sake of curiosity, Google has 18,000 instances of "suffering is a tool" and 38,000 instances of "suffering is a means"

Missing possible ways to end suffering[edit]

The article does mention negative utilitarianism, but it is missing some quite large bits of information on movements to use technology to end suffering in sentient life, as detailed in The Hedonistic Imperative and as the mission of the Abolitionist Society and the Abolitionist movement and David Pearce. I'll try to add this to an existing section or add a section sometimes in the near future on this subject.--Gloriamarie 21:02, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

OK, now I see that this is covered, but it merits a mention at the beginning; I missed it in my first time reading through.--Gloriamarie 22:56, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Physical or mental suffering[edit]

User: added the words that are struck in the following paragraph of the article introduction:

It seems necessary to distinguish between physical and mental suffering, because people often make the distinction. Usually physical suffering is understood as physical pain, and mental suffering is understood as ...mental suffering. The initial version here above wanted to show that there are other physical suffering than pain: for instance breathlessness, which is not considered as a pain by pain specialists, but which is surely unpleasant and aversive, a suffering in the broad sense, and a physical rather than mental suffering. However, the user's addition above highlights a problem with the initial version: are we to consider the 'types' of suffering, or the 'causes' of suffering. The initial version attempted to speak of types of feeling rather than causes of feeling, in order to remain closer to the subject. For instance, anxiety is a type of suffering, while the threat of loosing a job or a football game is a cause of anxiety, i.e. of suffering. In other words, the user's addition may be right, but then we should also add other sources of physical and mental suffering, and this would not be really useful. I think the real problem here has to do with linguistic muddle. Then, I believe the whole paragraph should be removed, and the paragraph further down beginning with "The words pain and suffering can be confusing" should take its place. What is valuable in the content of the removed paragraph could be reinserted somewhere else later, perhaps, under section "Biological, neurological, psychological aspects". --Robert Daoust (talk) 19:38, 7 March 2008 (UTC)


  1. ^ More examples of physical suffering: pain, nausea, shortness of breath, weakness, dryness, various feelings of sickness, certain kinds of itching, tickling, tingling, and numbness[1][2].
  2. ^ More examples of mental suffering: grief, depression or sadness, disgust, irritation, anger, rage, hate, contempt, jealousy, envy, craving or yearning, frustration, heartbreak, anguish, anxiety, angst, fear, panic, horror, sense of injustice or righteous indignation, shame, guilt, remorse, regret, resentment, repentance, embarrassment, humiliation, boredom, apathy, confusion, disappointment, despair or hopelessness, doubt, emptiness, homesickness, loneliness, rejection, pity, and self-pity...

Relationship between articles Pain and Suffering[edit]

Pain is currently Wikiproject Medicine Collaboration of the Week. From the top of the Pain article, "This article is about pain as a sensation. For pain in a broader sense see Suffering". If any editors here, in addition to Robert, would like to contribute to Pain you may assist in creating an accurate portrayal of human misery. (This sort of thing looks really good on a CV.(humour)) SmithBlue (talk) 06:45, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

A suggestion - how about defining suffering as 'any type of physical or mental discomfort'. Right now the use of footnotes is bad - they should be to references and putting a bunch of apologetics or qualifications in them makes the page more difficult to read and less clear. The explanations and self-references that are contained in the footnotes should be integrated with the body text and cited if possible. WLU (talk) 13:42, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
How do you define 'discomfort'. Shouldn't we avoid a circular or synonym definition? Shouldn't we also avoid characterizing right from the start suffering as essentially divided into the physical and the mental? As for footnotes, I think their normal use is to make the page less difficult to read and more clear. If you think that in the present case they can be avoided, please make the move, we will see whether the result is better. --Robert Daoust (talk) 14:20, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
The problem is we're going to get into circular definitions (explain 'green' to a blind person kinda thing); I'm not sure what's happening at pain with the split between tissue damage and feeling sad, at some point a split needs to be made. Checking out WP:FOOT, you're right that it can include both but I do think that the text is better placed in the actual article rather than a footnote. The first referes the reader to a different section, and provides no citation about suffering, only a quote about pleasure that mentions suffering. The second could also be integrated with text as it's basically a list of sensations and emotions that cause suffering. And both appear to reference a statement when really it's an expansion. Blech, it's basically a big mess combined with a basic concept which is hard to define. Pain itself includes emotional pain in its definition and lead, but only mentions emotions once in the body. Not that I have any solutions, just complaints :) WLU (talk) 14:58, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
I sympathize with your complaints:) But we are progressing, aren't we? Pain had to be split, as you say. It is not only that pain and suffering are basic concepts hard to define, it is also a matter of culturally ingrained ambiguous uses that an encyclopedia must disambiguate in order to present information in a consistent, coherent manner. For me, there is few English words more ambiguously entangled than pain and suffering. And the whole affective or emotional realm is lamentably dealt with in our culture, and 21st century psychology is still helpless on these matters! You speak of "a list of sensations and emotions that cause suffering". Please have a closer look. These sensations and emotions are (not basic but complex) "affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm", they are kinds of suffering, not causes of suffering... (or so is the intention) --Robert Daoust (talk) 16:40, 10 April 2008 (UTC)


Robert et al

I've just visited this page for the first time in a while. Can I congratulate you on the elegance and parsimony of your descriptions - not to mention their scientific rigor? Bravo! More please. Anthony (talk) 08:55, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Motivating my change[edit]

Per Robert Daoust's request for me to motivate my change for epicaricacy, let me just say this: Why use a German word when an English one is available. --evrik (talk) 17:10, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. IMO, schadenfreude is an English word of German origin like epicaricay is an English word of Greek origin. The former is almost common, 1,5 million results on Google, while the latter is very rare, 7 thousands results. Schadenfreude is used in the titles of many English publications. Moreover, we have a pretty good article article in WP on Schadenfreude. --Robert Daoust (talk) 17:24, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, no.

Schadenfreude (IPA: [ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏ̯də] is a German word meaning 'pleasure from misfortune'. It has been borrowed by the English language[1] and is sometimes also used as a loanword by other languages.

This is the English wiki, and not the German wiki. --evrik (talk) 17:42, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, you misinterpretated the quote: schadenfreude is a well established English word listed in English dictionaries, like this one since at least 1895. Perhaps you will want to modify the quoted entry to prevent misunderstanding in the future. --Robert Daoust (talk) 18:14, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Are you saying the wikipedia article on schadenfreude is wrong? --evrik (talk) 18:31, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

You are right, it is obviously wrong. It should read:

Schadenfreude (IPA: [ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏ̯də]) is enjoyment taken from the misfortune of someone else. The word has been borrowed from German by the English language[2] and is sometimes also used as a loanword by other languages.

or something like that. --Robert Daoust (talk) 19:40, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Except that the citation you used, >Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary says its German. --evrik (talk) 20:22, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

No, it says its etymology is German. If it was a German word it would not figure in that English dictionary. Look for instance at aficionado and countless other such English words. --Robert Daoust (talk) 22:03, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

External links removed[edit]

The following external links were included under section Suffering#Selected bibliography

  • International Association for the Study of Pain [3]
  • International Society for Panetics [4]
  • Algosphere - An Enterprise About Suffering [5]
  • Socrethics - The Least Suffering for the Smallest Number [6]

They cannot remain there because they are not 'books': they should rather be included under a section called External links. However, they cannot either figure under External links because of the following reasons. The first link is to an organization that deals with physical pain rather than with pain in the sense of suffering. The second link is already mentioned in the text and doesn't rquire to be mentioned again. The third or forth links may be to valuable websites but shouldn't these also be 'notable'? --Robert Daoust (talk) 14:58, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Biological, neurological, psychological aspects[edit]

This article claims: "Suffering (pain, unpleansantness) and pleasure (happiness, pleasantness), the former being called negative and the latter positive, are the two affects, or hedonic tones, or valences that psychologists often identify as basic in our emotional life." There is a great need for describing other approaches to "basics of emotional life":), for example: what about the conception of egzoergic(spending energy)and statergic(sparing energy) modes of behaviour? In this example egzoergic replaces positive pole and statergic would replace negative pole of behaviour. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fonfeluch (talkcontribs) 01:55, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Suffering & sentience[edit]

I strongly object the statement "All sentient beings suffer during their lives", it defies imagination and defines sentience. --UltimateDestroyerOfWorlds (talk) 21:19, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Good remark. It has to be changed. --Robert Daoust (talk) 10:55, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Physiology, Somatopsychic I've put the terms here, but I still don't know what to do with them here.

Austerlitz -- (talk) 17:26, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Suffering and animal welfare[edit]

User:23dx5assd added the following to section Biology, neurology, psychology: "Recently study also suggests that human attitudes towards suffering is the origin of the attitudes towards animal welfare [3]."

I am not sure at all about the appropriateness of that edit. According to me, first, it looks like a tautology, second, it does not belong to the section where it figures, and third, I did not find in the cited work such a statement. I undid the edit with a note about this third reason, and User:23dx5assd reinstated it with the following explication: "see page 263-266 Conclusions, its a refrase of the statments to avoid copyright issues. the conclusion is also in current wikipedia article 'animal welfare'".

I still cannot find the differently phrased statement on pages 263-266, which are quite interesting besides. I cannot clearly see that conclusion either in article animal welfare. So, I am asking User:23dx5assd to come here and discuss that edit. --Robert Daoust (talk) 22:18, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

1)OK here are two of the original sentences in the work: 'Avoidance of animal suffering is commonly know as animal welfare'. 'Avoidance of animal suffering and reverence for animals are two fundamentally unrelated types of attitudes towards animals.'page 264 there are more information like, you need read in the context 2)Attitude study are very often found in psychological research 23dx5assd (talk) 04:08, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your response. I think I understand your point of interest, but it would have to be phrased much better. Animal are mentioned almost ten times in this article. The book to which you want to refer could perhaps appear as an additional reference to Ryder and Singer under section philosophy. --Robert Daoust (talk) 16:40, 28 September 2011 (UTC)


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd Edition (2005), p.1577.
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd Edition (2005), p.1577.
  3. ^ Meng, Jenia. Origins of attitudes towards animals (2009). Ultravisum, Brisbane. ISBN 9780980842517 page 263-266

why do people suffer[edit]

i dont get how inersent people suffer for no reasen — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:22, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Explanations are offered from various perspectives all along the article, but I suppose none is satisfying for you. If you find one, which can be sourced in an existing reliable document, please bring it in. --Robert Daoust (talk) 18:03, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

There are religions, such as Christianity that express that suffering is not eternal yet it a natural occurrence in which all of humanity is susceptible to experiencing. Deashiaterrell (talk) 20:22, 7 September 2017 (UTC)


A few notes for a future paragraph on Islam: the faithful must endure suffering with hope and faith, not resist or ask why, accept it as Allah's will and submit to it as a test of faith (Allah never asks more than can be endured), work to alleviate suffering of others and one's own. --Robert Daoust (talk) 17:02, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Hebrew Bible and New Testament[edit]

User BillMoyers has contributed a few sentences that are welcome in that they expand a too short section on Judaism and Christianity. As a view on suffering from the perspective of those religions, however, the section is still wanting a lot. Saying all in a few sentences is not easy. Let us hope more is to come.

Robert Daoust pushing false terminology in the article[edit]

User:Robert Daoust is pushing the use of the word 'unpleasant' in this article, despite its falsehood. 'Unpleasant' means 'not pleasant', or at most, a very weak form of suffering, which is hardly the same thing as the word 'suffering'. He is also violating WP:OWN. ...Not that anyone is actually likely to read this talk page other than Robert Daoust himself. Potentialeverpresent (talk) 08:27, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Me too, Potentialeverpresent, I am pleased to collaborate with you. You brought some good improvements to the article, thanks. It is long overdue that someone other than me becomes seriously involved in the edition of this article! Could you specify why you are stating that I am violating WP:OWN, so that I may cease such violations? As to the terminology question, thank you for discussing it. Here are my arguments for using the term 'unpleasant': in science (e.g. Professor Donald Price: “Pain-unpleasantness is often, though not always, closely linked to both the intensity and unique qualities of the painful sensation.”[5]"), and philosophy (e.g. James Rachels: "Is Unpleasantness Intrinsic to Unpleasant Experiences?"), the term 'unpleasant' is often used to refer to the contrary of pleasure, that is to say to connote pain or suffering. See also: Wayne Hudson in Historicizing Suffering, Chapter 14 of Perspectives on Human Suffering (Jeff Malpas and Norelle Lickiss, editors, Springer, 2012) : "According to the standard account suffering is a universal human experience described as a negative basic feeling or emotion that involves a subjective character of unpleasantness, aversion, harm or threat of harm to body or mind (Spelman 1997; Cassell 1991)." As a matter of fact, I believe, the primary characteristic of suffering is probably unpleasantness more than aversiveness : the former is closer to the negative affective valence, whilst the latter is a bit more of the order of a motor reaction to the unpleasant character of suffering. Compare this to Berridge's disctinction between two characteristics of pleasure, liking and wanting. So, do you have good arguments against those that I am pushing in front of you? If you don't show any shortly, I will have to undo again your edits concerning the word unpleasant. If however you can show a valid case for your point, I will be pleased to accept the change for improvement.Robert Daoust (talk) 02:00, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
That's quite a lot of subtle flamebaiting and other aggression there, Robert:
1. Flamebaiting by saying that you 'have to' do an antagonistic-aggressive behavior that you choose to do.
2. Flamebaiting by completely ignoring my semantic point, and consequently saying a complete nonsense phrase like 'unpleasantness is an aspect of suffering'.
3. Demanding that I waste my time and effort trying to respond to such an incoherent nonsense argument. There are not 'two aspects' of suffering, much less can one of them be 'unpleasantness', which is itself defined as 'a very weak sensation of suffering'. This liking-wanting distinction is nothing more than the effect of the force of a stronger motivation overriding the force of a weaker motivation; it has nothing to do with 'two aspects'.
4. Wrapping your demands and flamebaiting in a veil of niceness, so as to be more antagonistic, as well as far-sightedly seeking favor with admins by using a veneer of civility.
As for those people who you cited, I find it funny how there are multiple people who troll by trivializing suffering as 'unpleasantness'. Apparently the logic that you're using is "if enough people in high places troll, and that trolling is dedicated enough, then it's not trolling anymore", which is an appeal to authority fallacy. Potentialeverpresent (talk) 05:32, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

I am sorry but I cannot deal with what you are saying. I will just do my business, and ask help from others when needed.--Robert Daoust (talk) 16:45, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
So what you're saying, without the euphemisms, is that you will just continue edit-warring (as you have demonstrated), and recruit one or more meat puppets to help satisfy your antagonistic-aggressive intent. Potentialeverpresent (talk) 07:49, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Redundant terms[edit]

The article introduction has the following sentences: "Suffering, or pain in a broad sense,[1] may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual." and "Suffering may be physical[3] or mental.[4]" Those sentences were previously written thus: "Suffering, or pain in a broad sense,[1] may be described as an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual." and "Suffering may be categorized as physical[3] or mental.[4]" A user removed 'redundant' terms, invoking the WP:Refers essay. My question : is it an improvement in this case to remove the 'redundant' terms? My opinion is that the terms "described as" and "categorized as" are indispensable because suffering cannot be defined but only approximately described, and suffering is not physical or mental but rather is often categorized as such. --Robert Daoust (talk) 17:30, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Suffering is the brain's interpretation of electrochemical inputs from various areas of the body. Suffering is not physical and this article needs to realise that. It is a subjective experience. The stimuli causing the experience may by physical, but the experience is not.__DrChrissy (talk) 00:43, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Robert Daous, as you know, I reverted you here, and I followed that up here, for the reasons that I stated in those edit summaries. Using "may be described" and similar is redundant in these cases. This article, as the WP:Hatnotes for the Pain article and this article currently state, is supposed to be about both physical and emotional pain -- pain in the broadest sense. All pain is an "experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm"; and suffering is a form of pain. Yes, DrChrissy, suffering can be physical pain; not only is this clear by a variety of WP:Reliable sources in the article, it is clear by a variety of WP:Reliable sources in the Pain article. That "suffering is the brain's interpretation of electrochemical inputs from various areas of the body" does not negate that the pain may be physical. It's all about perception, which is why some people don't feel physical pain. So, Robert Daoust, your addition of "is often categorized as" is not needed in the least. And I'm certain that, if I started a WP:RfC on this matter and editors participated in that WP:RfC, editors would agree with me on that. But I'm not going to revert you on that addition and press this issue. Flyer22 (talk) 23:54, 22 December 2014 (UTC)


Jay Kirk ( would like to speak to editors of this article. You may contact him at --Robert Daoust (talk) 14:59, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

dump section[edit]

The following keep appearing at the bottom of this page for unknown reason, therefore here is a dump section just for it :

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Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 00:46, 24 March 2016 (UTC)


User:Rahong has twice deleted the word "may" from the section of this article relating to BDSM. It's quite evident that not all BDSM practices involve suffering: take, for example, animal roleplay. When I pointed this out to Rahong on their talk page, giving an example in point, they reacted by deleting my comment and trashing the animal roleplay page thus, which I thought was a bit of an overreaction; their edit comments also seem rather intemperate to me. I've now restored the word "may" one more time: I invite Rahong to take it to talk here if they disagree. -- The Anome (talk) 17:24, 16 September 2016 (UTC)


THIS ARTICLE DISPLAYS NO UNDERSTANDING OF THE ENGLISH WORD SUFFER. This is a proposed start for someone with the proper background, although here I refer to the two definitions of suffering using physical rather than emotional examples. Does anyone have an "emotional" pair at hand?

Any discussion of suffering has to distinguish between its two radically different meanings. To suffer means simply to experience or undergo, as in the following sentence written by Barry Unsworth in “Sacred Hunger,” [ref] winner of the prestigious Booker Prize in 1992. [ref]

‘I don’t know what you want from me,’ the surgeon said. ‘You are quite fit for duty. All you are now suffering from is a slight inflammatory discharge of mucus from the membrane of the urethra.’ [p. 134]

In a discussion of human emotion, there is no need to linger on this meaning. Its second meaning is to experience intense or unendurable misery, as in the following from the same novel for comparative purposes.

Here, on his narrow bunk, in the close confines of his cabin, he rolled and groaned with the shrieking ship, prey in the darkness to shuddering waves of nausea the like of which he had never known and which excluded all other sensations save a sort of feeble astonishment at his capacity for suffering. [p. 111]

It is the latter meaning of suffering that has been the subject of religion and philosophy and medicine doubtless many millenniums before human beings acquired writing. Intense pain is experienced in the same part of the brain whether physical or emotional, but physical and emotional suffering are currently treated quite differently in the developed world.