Why Can't Humans Take The Pain? The Evolution Of Agony.

Have you ever seen an animal so badly injured that it is sure to die? Why aren’t these hurt animals trying to get run over by elephants or trying to get eaten by lions, or jumping into rivers to end their pain? They don’t. They bear the pain. That is the difference between animals and humans. Humans cannot tolerate pain as animals can. This wasn’t always the way it was for humans. At some point in our pre-history something happened that made pain intolerable for us to stand and intolerable for our clan members to watch. Have you ever heard an animal crying out to be killed because their injuries where just so painful? When you observe an animal caught by a lion you can most certainly see fear in its eyes and bodily gesture, and at the moment they’re caught they do let out a painful cry, but then, they succumb. Its as though they had a built in mechanism to turn off the pain, not intentionally but perhaps biologically their brains have evolved to release a numbing chemical at these moments of death.

Animals instinctively know when they are close to death. Sickly animals have been observed to go off on their own and die quietly away from their group. This is an instinct that animals have evolved perhaps to prevent danger to their group after their death. Predators and scavengers will surely find their bodies and bring danger to the rest of the group. Dying away from the group is an evolved trait and a natural failsafe to protect the healthy animals. To this degree animals have a basic concept of death, but it is unlikely that they understand why they are going off to die, it is more an instinctual behavior. There is no question that animals feel pain and do cry from the pain, but they won’t throw themselves off a cliff in order to end their pain, they will endure it until the moment of death comes, and their relief begins. There must have been a time when the same was true for humans. A time when humans like animals had no high concept of what life and death were. In order for an animal to want to die because of their pain, they need to have a concept of life and what is a good life, as well as understand the relief that death will give.

Why can’t humans take the pain? Well, thousands of years ago we could. Neanderthals studies have confirmed that these humans were built for pain. They even possessed a variant of the red haired gene MC1R. Studies have shown that modern red headed humans have more tolerance for pain than do humans with other colored hair. Neanderthal bones have been found that suggest these humans were living with severe injuries due to their up and close hunting techniques. It was with Neanderthals that the first ceremonial burials occurred giving credence to their developing spiritual state of mind. They also took care of their sick as we do today. Did Neanderthals wish death from their pain? It is possible, being that their understanding of life and death had become much more advanced than previous humans and animals, but their harsh lifestyle suggests that like our animal ancestors they took the pain until the end. But unlike the gazelle caught in the lions jaws, Neanderthals most likely wished for the pain to end, and death must have been a welcome relief.

Cro-Magnon man was also better built for pain. They are our immediate ancestors and are credited for creating art and culture, but their bodies were more robust and stronger than modern day humans although not as strong as Neanderthals. Cro-Magnons are considered fully modern and even had a slightly larger brain size than modern humans. Like Neanderthals their larger brain size could be due to their larger physiques. Cro-Magnons with the influx of Neanderthal genes had a modern concept of life and death as well as a sophisticated spiritual mind. They are most likely the first humans and the first animal to ever commit suicide. Although their bodies were built to take the pain their minds were fragile due to the prevalent influx of mental disorders in our gene pool, caused by compassion and spears. Prevalent psychological problems in humans may be a by-product of our close empathetic social group structure.

With modern humans empathy and compassion, lead to the taking care of the mentally ill, and or personalities on the borderline of mental illness, that would normally have not survived if left to fend for them selves in the wild. This enabled them to survive long enough to breed and spread their genes. Mentally ill primitive hominids as well as apes did not live long enough in the wild to breed and pass on their genes. With no one taking care of them, nature and its creatures would consume them. This is why mental illness in the wild is not as prevalent as in humans, and how increased mental disorders to our gene pool contributed to our ability to feel mental and emotional pain to the degree of wanting to die because of it.

Modern humans provided us with the modern survival tool kit. Which enabled us to leave Africa and multiply. They equipped us with the latest in survival technology; spears so accurate and deadly that no lion would dare enter our newly fortified mammoth bone huts, caves, or similar fortified dwellings, resulting in increased populations. In fact, lions and bears became the hunted. Sewing and weaving technologies lead to clothing, enabling us to flourish in the north. Fishing and knowledge of the plants we gathered lead to increased numbers as well. Never before did the human population reach such numbers, and because of that, the genes for mental disorders were passed to every human being in the world.

Larger group sizes resulting from this new survival tool kit, coupled with our innate empathetic nature, resulted in an increase in the mentally ill, and people that may be predisposed to mental illness. More important it redesigned our brains, and as a result, our ability to cope with pain. Mental illness has also been linked to creative individuals throughout history and recently science has confirmed the link between the creative mind and mental disorders. The artistic or creative individual is more likely to suffer from mental illness or be predisposed to it genetically without actually succumbing to it. If you compare the amount of mental illness in humans to the animal kingdom you will notice that in humans it is rampant while in nature it is rare.

The artistic mind, and emotional pain, as well as suicide are the results of the new hard wiring of the brain, due to an increase of genes for mental illness, which has spiraled out of control in humans as a result of compassionate behavior, deadlier spears and the latest survival technologies. Sixty to thirty thousand years ago all these conditions came to bear resulting in a giant leap of humanity. Even spiritual experience has been linked to mental illness. When you increase the number of the mentally ill, or people predisposed to mental illness, you increase the number of creative minds and painful hearts. When you combine artistic, spiritual, music, dance and the art of story telling, you end up with the dawn of modern humans and the evolution of agony.

David Yanez


Copyright 2012 David Yanez. All Rights Reserved.

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