Phantom Pains – Why the pain of a heartbreak could be similar to the ‘pain’ of amputating a limb

Prior to pending down this article, I was informed about a young man who had a ghastly motor accident.

The narrator said a few things about his mutilated body parts and fractured bones. As she recounted the story of this young man who is actually related to her, so many things were going through my mind. One of the remarkable points in that story is that her relation will lose one of his legs. As at the time of sharing this story with me, it was his birthday. Somewhere in another country, he’s lying unconscious due to an induced coma, unaware of the news that await him when he becomes conscious.


What is Phantom Pain?

When a limb is amputated, one of the remarkable experiences is phantom pain. This is simply the phenomenon whereby a patient feels pain on a removed body part. The brain essentially hasn’t recognized that the body part is gone. It’s interesting to note that doctors initially attributed this experience as having a psychological origin. However, recent management procedures see it as having a neurological origin.

It bodes well to admit howbeit paradoxically that phantom pains are real. How can phantoms be real? I have thought about it too.

Experts aren’t sure of the exact causes but it is suggested that when a limb is amputated, the nerve endings aren’t able to send signals to the brain. They essentially get ‘rewired’. This is interpreted by the brain as ‘something is wrong’. The patient feels this ghostly pain. Note, the patient could also feel movement, pressure, vibration, itch etc. on this lost body part. For the rest of this article, phantom pain could be synonymous to any of these.

Phantom pains are managed similarly to your regular body pains. One thing here is that management depends on the patient’s needs. There could be needs for pain relief medicines. There could also be needs for drugs used for other conditions like depression and seizures to be prescribed. There are equally drugs you could buy over the counter. Other means of management include muscle stimulation, massage and others.



Why do we even need to talk about phantom pain?

Due to my medical background, I have been virtually compelled to adapt my medical perspective to issues. Inasmuch as my interest in psychology is indicted, it’s also important to note that it could be a similar experience for others irrespective of your field or area of interest. How would it sound if an engineer talked about human life from that angle? Anyway, pardon my digression.

As individuals, some of us have experienced phantom pains at one time or the other. How so? Well, let’s look at it this way.

If you are in a relationship with someone, you are connected so to speak. Whenever there’s a break-up, (of course the tag gives it away,) there’s an amputation especially when you can’t get back together. There are also incidents whereby a relationship is over but only exists in appearances, just for the cameras.

Phantom pain in this case, encompasses all you experience in a relationship that no longer exists. The purpose of this article is to help you recognize and deal with some of those.

As usual, one of my examples will be in relation to romantic relationships. In this case, the love you share no longer exists. The reason is because your mind understands the person is gone but your heart is still ‘feeling it’. You heart needs continuous tutoring by the mind to come to terms with reality. Like I mentioned in the management of phantom pain, managing this issue varies among patients. You may need to utilize tools like mindfulness, positive self-talk and meditation. You might need counseling too. What serves you best when you experience everyday disappointments is a pointer to what tool that will best serve you. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up over what doesn’t exist anymore.

In the work place, phantom pain experiences aren’t strange too. In life, agreement doesn’t always translate to acceptance. Someone may accommodate you there in the office. In your ‘church mind’ you believe that such person is nice. He or she might have done so because the boss says ‘everyone has to work together here.’ If you are not able to differentiate between ‘who is around you’ and ‘who wants you’, my brother, my sister, your case will be like the proverbial one who builds castles in the air. You know how that goes, right?

Another aspect that I won’t fail to mention is in our own personal lives. One thing about phantom pain is that when it happens, the individual can sometimes be helpless about it even when there are available intervention measures. There are times we can’t just help it due to ignorance. What if you as an individual is ignorant of this ignorance? This is even worse.

When you habitually question your abilities and potentials, you set up yourself for phantom pain. This is because what you are afraid of makes no sense (you will realize this in the long run). On this, you will come to see that what you feel about what doesn’t exist, doesn’t actually exist. Yes, I agree you feel the pain. I am not dismissive about what you went through. I also agree the symptoms are written all over you. However, you are like the person that was sent to buy ingredients from the market yet, those ingredients no longer exist in that market. This is a watered down version of a wild goose chase. Believe in yourself. Whatever you think about yourself is what you are. Don’t ever forget that.

In conclusion, phantom pains are real. Don’t be distracted by the tags. As you highlight these and more in your daily life, you are rest assured to be the best you can ever be of yourself.

I make a toast to your personal transformation.


Sincerely, thank you for reading.

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