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3 Ways For Pain Sufferers to Reclaim Social Life

3 Ways For Pain Sufferers to Reclaim Social Life

Almost every chronic pain sufferer will tell you that their condition  at one time or another has affected their  social life. The new reality for them is that they  stopped doing the things they used to do. Instead of having  a big S on their  chest or being Wonder Woman, they felt frustrated.

A Man Unbuttons His Shirt and Reveals A Big Superman S on His Chest
How to Feel Like SuperMan
A Photo of Wonder Woman Dressed For Battle
Introducing The New Wonder Woman

Some even became the very things that they  despised in others:

Ice Queen—cold and mean with no regard to how their  angry bitter outbursts affected people around them.

Photo Of The Movie Version Of The Ice Queen
Meet The Ice Queen

Fortunately this doesn’t have to happen to you. You can live a fulfilling life despite your pain. You can learn to direct your energy to participating in things that you enjoy  while living with pain.  Here are 3 ways for pain sufferers to reclaim social life.

Who I’m I to Speak on The Subject?

I am someone who is a caregiver for a mother with chronic back pain. As a result I have spent years immersed in the subject and I have seen up front the challenges  of dealing with daily pain. I know what it feels like when you are unable to stand for too long. So you use the grocery cart as a walker when shopping, like my mom. Or have to ask help vacuuming  the house because of the pressure it puts on the spine. Yes, the light weight vacuuming machines make things a bit easier. But that pressure is still there from all that bending and moving.

A Light Weight Vacuuming Machine Being Used on a Rug
Introducing The Light Weight Vacuuming Machine

My mom at 88 is still blessed with long hair that has withstood  medication that often thins and in some cases prevents hair from growing. That said, washing that glorious hair is exhausting for her. It takes so much out of her that she has to plan an event a day or two after she washes her hair, after she has regained her energy.

Nevertheless pain sufferers to the extent possible want to engage in social life. The tips I give here are not by  some   out of touch “means well but doesn’t get it” friend. I know how frustrating that can be.

I give these tips from a place of acknowledgement. I also understand that  you lost most of your social life when the pain entered your life. However, you might now feel that you want to reclaim some of that social life back. This are some of the ways that you can do it.

  1. Cross-Activities: In previous posts I have talked about Cross-Training. As I explained,  Cross-training is alternating between two or more activities to stay fit. For example, a typical cross-training routine would be to run one day, swim the next, and bicycle another. Some competitive runners, for instance, run in place in water and swim to stay fit while nursing shin splints or other injuries.
A Woman Wearing tights and Red Sneakers is Running on a Sunny Day
A Woman Running in The Sun


A Man is Working Out By Taking A Lap in The Pool
A Swim WorkOut

The same concept can be applied to pain sufferers. For example, one may not go to the movies anymore  because the seats are uncomfortable. Instead, one can go to the local theater where management can always make arrangement for special seating. Also a lot of doctors discourage  drinking while taking pain medication. Thus if one used to spend most of her or his relaxing time at the pubs, they can replace bar hopping with football games.

Also, let’s remember why athletes cross train. They want to stay fit doing other  sports that don’t require the use of the same muscles needed for their main sport.

A runner with knee problems will use swimming until his or her knees are healed. Pain sufferers can transform their  skills the same way.  Let’s say you’re a wiz at persuading others to accept your point of view. Why not take those skills and leverage them into a  part time position as  an advocate?  Through out your life, as I stated in an earlier post about adult learners, you have gained skills which you can now transfer into another field of study.

2.Form a Posse of Friends. Some chronic pain conditions  can leave the person with uncontrollable  spasms that can hit anytime. Consider the experiences of this man:

“…one incident was in a supermarket and I got a severe spasm, muscle spasm, and I fell, well I actually collapsed, in the supermarket and like I was pretty about my pain and one of the assistants called the manager and they actually took me for a drunk.” [1]

Friends will give you a peace of mind. You’ll have the comfort  of know that if you have a flare-up, someone will be there to explain your condition. Or drive you home. The point is that there’s no need to sink into a depression. You got friends  who care. You would be surprised of how many are willing to spend time with you. All you need to do is ask. Do it!

3.Use a Power Wheel Chair to Save Energy For Social Life.

To most people, a wheel chair means dependency, but some pain sufferers have found wheel chairs to give them the independence to pursue a social life.  As one chronic pain sufferer puts it:

“…the wheel chair is an extension of my car, so it means  I can drive into town and park and then get out and carry on driving around the shops, which seems very sensible to me, it means I can spend the whole day going shopping  by myself because I’ve got a power wheel chair, so I can whiz around, do all my own shopping, be completely  independent….” [3] Another woman says she uses her power wheel chair to save her “walking energy for going out socially in the evening.


Sometimes I look into the face of my mother and marvel at how fresh is the pain of loss. It has been years now since  her accident, and still at times theres is no sense of release, no closing of the wound that I feel for her.

Time heals all wounds seems to be a big lie. My grief for the life she can no longer go back to could have grown into anger over the years. But she never let that happen. Instead, she has inspired me by her bravery and grit. She has lived a good deal of her life in pain and yet is the same kind caring woman who is moved by the plight of others, and is determined to live a life as full as possible.

I am inspired by mom to make sure that every pain sufferer knows that I believe them. Yes, I know you’re not lazy.

It’s the pain that stops you from keeping the house as clean as you would like. I also know that you’re not looking for someone to tell you that they have found the Holy Grail that will cure  your chronic illness. You have heard that before. No, you’re looking for someone  who understands what you’re going through. I do. I also know that you might need a nudge to go out there and  enjoy  some social life and reconnect to your community. Consider this post that nudge.

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.



Paula Harper

Diabetes Forecast. 42.8 (Aug. 1989): p58.


3 Ibid

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10 Easy Tips That Will Make You Super Empathic

10 Easy Tips That Will Make You Super Empathic

Do you have a hard time communicating with people who are in daily pain? Here is the problem with chronic wide spread pain. It is both physical and emotional and it can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress. This is why I came up with 10 easy tips that will make you super empathic.

A Man, in a State of Depression, Covers His Face With Both Hands
What Depression Looks Like

While most people may understand something like a broken leg, they have a hard time comprehending something that they can’t see.

Thus, it’s often difficult for pain sufferers to explain how they feel. The result is that chronic pain can lead to isolation and loneliness, partly because it’s difficult to get out but also because people withdraw into themselves.

A Photo, Transparent, Showing The Shy, Sick, Illness, of an Obsessed Man
What Obsession Looks Like

That said, it’s important for people to continue with their  lives as much as possible. However, what if you want to better understand  what life is like for a friend or relative who experiences daily pain.

In a previous post I wrote about a  technology that enabled you to see the pain of  others. In short, a game that fosters empathy for chronic pain sufferers.

As I stated to One of my Readers:

What I like about this technology is that it enables a non-pain sufferer to have empathy for a person who experiences wide spread chronic pain. The technology makes empathy possible by allowing anyone to “see” just how hard it is to maneuver your body at will when suffering from chronic pain. This has the potential to make a tremendous  impact in the field of health technology.

How The Game Works

The creators of the game ,in describing how it works, state :

In the game, participants interact with their altered virtual body — a silhouette they see in a virtual mirror — and complete object-oriented motor tasks. Then, using their whole body, they reach out to connect dots into a line which forms a meaningful shape related to a chronic pain experience.[1]

“Pain randomly attacks different parts of the body. In our game, we make pain visible with visual particle motions — they look a little like a glowing red ‘cloud’ ” Ulas explains. “The pain limits body movement and hinders the participant from reaching some of the dots.” [2] For more information, check out the game in the video below.

What if you are not in to technology and just want to know practical ways to become more empathic?

As mentioned earlier,  here are 10 easy tips on how to hone your empathic  skills to better understand the pain sufferer.

1)Cook pasta in a big pot. Ha? I see you shaking your head. No, I haven’t lost my mind. Stay with me. Take a long  look at that boiling pot of water that you are about to put the pasta in.


This Photo shows A Heavy of Boiling Water
A Heavy Pot of Boiling Water

Now consider what would happen if  you  suddenly experienced pain just as you were holding the pot to drain the water. You would probably  spill the water all over you and get burned. This is why some pain sufferers use the  microwave instead of the stove.  They want to avoid be burned.  Now you know.

2)Freeze some food and have it be available several days later.

Go ahead and freeze some of your food and save it for a day that you just don’t want to cook.  Once you have done that, you can better  put yourself in the shoes of a pain sufferer. Doesn’t it make sense that they would go ahead and cook a lot of food on a”good day” when the pain is less intense, and then have it ready when they need it?

3)Take a good look at all your cooking utensils. Imagine how some pain sufferers would struggle lifting that heavy pan.

A Photo Showing a Set of Small and Big Pans
Set of Small and Big Pans

Chopping those vegetables

Opening those jars

Standing for long periods

4)Now figure a way to sit while preparing the food, and use smaller pans. Some found preparing a meal difficult and struggled with things like lifting heavy pans, chopping vegetables, opening jars and standing for long periods. Cooking could be made easier by breaking tasks up, sitting to prepare food, choosing easier things to cook and using smaller pans.

5)Do something creative, particularly if you are having a bad day. You might want to write a poem, draw and paint, sing, as an outlet for your feelings.

This is a Photo of Someone Painting a Flower
An Oil Painting of A flower

Now imagine experiencing  more than just the stress of a crummy day. Imagine what it would be like if you had chronic pain. Now you appreciate  how engaging  in creative activities can help a pain sufferer cope with his or her condition.

6)Watch any Sport Series on TV. Tennis,  with all the celebrated rivalries and world famous tournaments, may be the best option. However, the important lesson here is having a better understanding of how huge it is for pain sufferers to be distracted from their  pain.

This is a Photo Showing Roger Federer in a Match at The Grass Court of Wimbledon
Roger Federer Playing at the Grass Court of Wimbledon

My mother, for example, is now enjoying The Australian Open. She loves to follow Roger Federer in his quest to win. She’s also a big fan of women’s tennis and is engaged  by the battles on the court. For a couple of hours a day she can forget about her back pain.

7) Do something With The GrandKids.  In addition  to experiencing the joy of laughing  kids— there are few thing as  uplifting as that—you’ll begin to become more empathic as to how activites  involving grandchildren  can help pain sufferers become more positive and less depressed.

This is a Photo of a Man Enjoying a Water Fight With Kids
A Man Enjoys A Water Fight With Kids

8) Do some Visualization Exercises. The next time you have a hellish day try this: Visualize a relaxing experience such as walking along a beach.

A Woman in Summer Dress Enjoys an Evening Walk on The Beach
A Woman Enjoys an Evening Walk on The Beach

Or sitting by a waterfall. You can try some relaxation tapes—guided imagery— to help you with the visualization.

A Serene Scene of Two People Sitting by a Waterfall
Sitting by a Waterfall on a Sunny Day

Hey, think of  a flash of bright  colors. Imagine how they can uplift your spirits.

9) Take a Drive. Hey, when was the last time you drove just to enjoy the sites? Take a nice trip around town and pay attention to the landmarks or parks that you just use to pass by. Do you know of a scenic route that you’ve being dying to explore? Go for it. You might find that it’s a wonderful distraction.

Peaceful Scene of a Jeep Moving Down a Country Road
A Jeep Moves Down a Country Road

10) Spend Time With The Family. Do you remember all those family gatherings you kept canceling  because life just got in the way?  Well, go ahead and attend the next family function. Apart from making dad and mom happy, you’ll become more aware  of how important it is for pain sufferers to reach out and not be left alone to deal with their condition.

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There you have it. You have learned 10 tips that can make you more empathic when it comes to pain sufferers being able to distract their  mind away from pain. Are there other  good distraction techniques that you have discovered?

I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.



  2. Ibid
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How to Gain Independence With Hand Controls

How to Gain Driver Independence With Hand Controls

Product: Freedom Staff 2.0 Handicap Driving Hand Controls Upgraded Version

Price: $ 269.00

Size: Handle measures: 13 inches wide

Weight capacity: Less than 3 LBs

Cheapest Place to Buy:

Warranty: Check with Company

Rating: 8 out of 10


Is The Freedom Staff Hand Controls for disabled drivers right for you?

Imagine being disabled and not being able to use your legs to control the brake and gas pedals of a car. But what if  you want to drive a car other than one that has not been custom modified? Have you wondered how to gain driver independence with hand controls?

Drive With Independence

Perhaps you have been eyeing The Freedom Staff Hand Controls For Disabled drivers and thinking about buying it, right?

Picture of a Man Using Hand Controls to Drive Car
What Hand Controls For Driving look Like

Restoring Dignity

Consider this situation. You have MS from the waist down. Your vision is fine and  your mind still sharp, arms, ect. You just need hand controls to use instead of your legs. In the past you might have had no choice but to try your city’s department  of transportation, but you would’ve gotten the runaround because they didn’t work with individuals. They probably would’ve told you to take the bus. You might have tried other organizations that work with the disabled and encountered  a lot of red tape. The Freedom Staff makes access to portable hand controls easy, and I think that’s a good thing.

Maybe you really miss driving and you like being independent which driving gives you.

Photo of a Woman Driving a Car
The Freedom of Driving


I mean you could take the bus, but the damn bus stops can be too hot or too cold in the winter.Taxi’s cost too much. So saving big bucks by doing your own driving seems like a great option.

Photo of Woman Waiting at Bus Stop
Woman Waiting at Bus Stop

But before you buy The Freedom Staff Controls For Disabled drivers,  take a minute and read my review. As you’ll find out, this driver assisted tool isn’t for everyone…

First off, let me cover the good points of this device:

  • It’s a Freedom Staff product. This company is all about developing products that make it possible for for anyone with physical  challenges to drive themselves and take back their independence. So, you know they have very good intensions.
  • The Freedom Staff can, according to it’s makers, literally travel with you, from vehicle to vehicle. It can be quickly installed in any automobile with an automatic transmission, no tools necessary. It can even be packed and stowed when not needed.
  • The design allows the user to easily handle the steering wheel with one hand while operating the hand control device with the other hand.
  • Freedom Staff handles are easy to install using the included strap that slides over the steering column to stabilize the controls in position. This system of portable hand control will give you the best chance of driving  your own car without adapting completed  driving techniques.
    Sounds good so far, right? But there are a couple downsides to this portable hand controls system. Namely:
  • The part that works with the steering column is not attached to the column. This means that you’ll have to handle the steering wheel with one hand while operating the hand control device with the other hand.
  • There’s no control for just the accelerator. There are two poles that go to the accelerator and brake. It’s made, according to the manufacture, for you to use the control and accelerate by gently pulling the lever and to brake by gently pushing the lever toward the floor.

Product Features:

  • Portable with small carry bag included
  • Aircraft grade aluminum, stainless steel hardware.
  • Brake adjusts: 22-30 inches
  • Accelerator adjusts: 19-1/2-26-3/4 inches


  • Use with any vehicle with an automatic transmission
  • Easy push and pull operation
  • Simple and quick installation—No tools required
  •   Adjust length to suit your needs
  • Does not attach to steering wheel. Most people find this very convenient


  • Does not  attach to steering wheel. Some people found this a concern.

A Better Understanding of  The Hand Controls

One last note about the hand controls. Often people ask when do they really need them. Below is a typical scenario.

QShould I use Hand Controls? This is a scenario where one has been driving for years using his or her right leg, but sometimes misses the brake pedals.  They drive leaving lots of space so that if they do miss the brake pedal they have time to find it before needing to  stop. The question then becomes whether or not they should use hand controls.

A: Find a local driving evaluator and take a test drive with them. They typically have a vehicle set up with different types of controls for you to try.

They will help you figure out what works best for your needs and get you properly licensed to drive with hand controls if your state requires it. If you have no trouble with reaching the brake pedals, you might only need the hand controls.


I understand the importance of disabled people doing everything to live independent lives. In fact, my recent posts have addressed the issue of mobility aids around the house.  I also wrote about standing aids that will prevent one from falling. That said, I have always told my readers that the information on this site is not a substitute  for doctor’s advice. As such, one should always seek medical advice before engaging in any change of routine. Also, as stated earlier, it would be wise to find a driving evaluator to help you answer what are the best car mobility aids for you.

Having said that, this is an awesome opportunity for you to gain the independence to drive your own car.Now there’s only one thing to ask yourself. How long are you going to put up with not being able to drive yourself when and where you please. Get  your driver independence  here.

Learn to be more mobile so that you can become independent.           


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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.


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8 Health Equipments That Will Help You Stand

   8 Health Equipments That  Will Help You  Stand

As our body ages, we become effete, feeble and standing becomes more like a mile journey. Things can be even more challenging if you also suffer from chronic back pain. Technology has changed everything in the modern era. Old age is no longer to be feared and senescence is to be embraced. Thanks to all forms of molecular biology and health equipments, life is more interesting. With orthopedic beds, adjustable beds and neuromodulation devices, standing up even with back pain is made easy. Here are 8 standing aids that help achieve independence when standing up or sitting on a couch, a bed, and how they are used.

1. Standers Bed Cane

This health equipments help support movement in and out of the bed. To use this, hold the cane with one or both hands and use as a support to sit straight. This aid comes with a pocket to store handy items, can be used on either side of the bed and can be adjusted to fit the height of the mattress.

This Photo Shows a Woman using a Bed Cane for Support
A woman Uses a Bed Cane to Transfer Out of Bed
This is a photo of a Bed Cane
Photo of Bed Cane

The Bed Cane Transfer Handle by Stander provides a stable support to help make getting in and out of a bed easier. People with arthritis who have difficulty with bed mobility or transferring out of bed will find the wide cushion grip handle comfortable to hold.

Customer Feedback

Most respondents would recommend the stander bed cane to a friend. They felt it gave them bedroom independence, allowing the person to pull themselves upright  to a full sitting position. Those that suffered from leg injuries felt that the bed cane helped them stay balanced and prevented falls getting in and out of bed. Some used  it on both sides of the bed to prevent rolling of the bed.

2. Super Pole System with SuperBar

This secure standing and sitting aid also aids little movements. It has a SuperBar that is horizontal on the Super Pole system and is used as a transfer option for individuals that require moderate assistance to take little steps. This is installed vertically between ceiling and floors with no requirement for a structural enforcement, comes with a grab bar that automatically locks when released to prevent you from falling. The Super Pole system is easy to use, involves you holding the Pole to support standing up and SuperBar for small movements.

This is a Photo of a Woman Using a Super Pole With Grab Bar to Support Her as She Gets Out of Bed
Woman Using a Super Pole With Grab Bar

Customer FeedBack

Most customers  appreciated  the fact that it replaced the aid usually associated with a nursing home. Think about it. One of the big issues that drive people to nursing  homes is the inability  to pull themselves up from their easy chair or toilet. Well the Super Pole with SuperBar eliminates the nursing home. It allows:

Ease of use – no reaching, stretching or twisting required.

Flexible – more compact than a walker in small restricted areas such as washrooms.

Versatile – can pivot in narrow areas such as between bed and wall, narrow hallways, etc.

Bed Application – allows weight shift, moving, standing, leaving or getting into bed, or transfer to wheelchair, walker or bedside commode.

Bathtub Application – provides complete support for step-over without reaching for wall bars. The SuperBar can pivot away from shower curtains, allowing them to fully close during a shower.

Toilet Application – permits pulling up to standing and can provide leaning support while managing clothing.

Check this for more information on the use of a super bar.

3. Stander EZ Adjust Bed Rail

Just like the Stander bed cane, only that this provides extra protection from falling from the bed when sleeping as this tool can extend up to 42″ in length. This device is to prevent falling out of bed as well as for transfers out of bed. It is easy to use, install and can be attached to any home or hospital bed.

Customer FeedBack

This rail got kudos for also making the life of a caregiver  a whole lot easier.

4. Stander Bed Rail Advantage Travel

This provides extra support with a cushion grip handle to make getting out of bed safe. It is strong and reliable which is secured with a foam grip to provide a comfortable foam grip. Like the first, it requires a cushion grip on the handle which is used as a support. It is foldable in case you need to travel with it. It comes with a pocket to store handy items and provides fall protection.

A Photo Showing a Woman Demonstrating How to use The Bed Rail Advantage
How The Bed Rail Advantage Works

Customer Feedback

People found it awesome that they could travel with a rail, adding to their  independence beyond  home.

5. Stander EZ adjustable pivoting Bed Rail

This is a unique stander. The stander features an adjustable pivoting bed rail. This not only aids getting up from bed but also secures the caregiver by providing a better fall protection and supports small movements from the bed.

Customer Feedback

Most customers found  this rail a good value. They thought it wasn’t priced too high and did an effective job of preventing elderly loved ones from falling.

6. Standers Assist-A-Tray Standing Aid With Tray

Unlike the others that help support you to stand up from a bed, this equipment is designed to provide help to caregivers sitting. This aid is uniquely designed to suite the home furniture as it comes with a swivel tray for eating and reading which can be moved out of the way when not in use. This aid can be easily assembled and is used by providing pressure on the grip to lift yourself up.

Photo of a woman Demonstrating How to Use The Assist Tray Standing Aid to Get Up Safely From a Couch
How to Use The Assist Tray Standing Aid to Get of a Sofa

Customer Feedback

A lot of people loved the fact that The Assist-A-Tray works well with most any couch, chair, recliner, or lift chair.

7. Smart-Rail System Bed Rail

This bed rail system does not only help support standing but also support small movements as it can pivot outward. This system can also be locked or unlocked with the use of a latch. Unlocking the latch provides caregivers fall protection.

This system is easily installed by inserting the support frame between box spring and mattress. It is not to be used on a wet floor, with electric or hospital styled beds. It is mainly designed for moderate assists for standing and sitting.

Customer Feedback

It comes in handy and is appreciated  by  those that need a little extra help standing, moving and transferring in and out of bed

8. Standers Bed Caddie Pull Strap

This aid helps people to up in bed. It has a ladder-like design (which is secured around the foot of the bed with an adjustable clip that) that enables persons with weak back to pull themselves up with the aid of a cushion grip.

A Woman Demonstrates How to Use The Bed Caddie
How to Use The Bed Caddie

Customer Feedback

People with arthritis who have general weakness or decreased back strength will found the Bed Caddie helpful to pull themselves up to a sitting position in bed.

The great thing about these devices are that they are readily available for purchase and at that for a little price on Amazon with a secure delivery.






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There you have it. No matter what type of balance problem you are experiencing  there’s a solution. Here are the 8 health equipments that will help you stand and take out the anxiety of rolling of your bed or pulling yourself up from your easy chair or toilet. That said, if you are suffering from an ailment or injury or are taking medications that affect your balance or ability to stand or sit down, you should first consult with a physician before using these products. If the products are not used properly, serious injury or harm could result.

Still, would having more control in your life help you?

     check these products at        

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How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World–Part4

How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World—Part 4

Welcome back to the forth part of the series that focuses on how to stop pain from determining your world. The whole series is a reply to the linguistic  determinist who believe that language not only influences, but determines the way we perceive the world.

I show Why This is Not The Case

The first post acknowledged the psychological power of language  to define our reality.

The second post examined how language influences, according to those who support linguist  determinism, the way we look at the world.

The third post  took on a central tenant  of the Linguistic determinist:The  linear and non-linear argument . This is the belief that some cultures are determined to see the world in a linear form, and others in a non-linear form. The final post will show how the so called “Climactic ” argument fails to prove that a culture in a “non-linear” society is unable to perceive of things in a linear way.

Starting a Meal With Strawberry Short Cake

And Ending it With Spinach

The “Climactic” Argument

Here is where Linguist Anthropologist  Dorothy Lee attempts  to show another example of how how the language of the people living in the Trobriand Island (of New Guinea) doesn’t have a concept of linear while English calls attention to linear order. She says:

…who but a very young child would think of starting a meal with strawberry shortcake and ending it with spinach? We have come to identify the end of the meal with the height of satisfaction, and we identify semantically the words dessert and reward, only because of the similarity of their position in a climatic line. The Trobriander meal has no dessert, no line, no climax. The special, the relish is eaten with the staple food; it is not something to “look forward to” while disposing of a meaningless staple.[1].

The problem with Lee’s example is simple enough. The fact that one’s language creation doesn’t connate something in a “climactic” fashion doesn’t mean that one doesn’t perceive climactic action.

Consider The Following:

You are asked to describe a table. In your description you describe the table in “positive” terms. You state how big rather than how small the table is, how high rather than how low, how wide  rather than how narrow, and how hard rather than fragile. Just because you came up with a positive list of descriptions doesn’t mean that the next time you see the table you couldn’t come up with a negative list.

Are you starting to see where I’m going? It’s not at all clear that because the Trobrianders eat dessert  with the main meal, that they can’t conceive  of eating desert after the main meal. Just because one has no way of expressing a particular action in his or her language doesn’t mean that he or she can’t perceive  that action.

Here is An Interesting Twist

The fact that there is an expression describing a particular action in a language doesn’t mean that the people using that language perceive the action. In fact, it might be the opposite. Consider most conversations by Americans.

Americans according to Lee think in linearity. Really? Many times several topics are discussed at the same time, giving one the feeling of everything but linearity. Just think of the last time you had a conversation with your American buddies. Did you really go in a neat order topic to topic or did you jump around a lot?


Well you have come to the end of the sees and, you just learned a whole lot about Linguistic Determinism. So now it’s time to take a quick quiz to see how well you understand what you’ve just learned. Take a moment right now and answer these questions:

Question 1: Define Linguistic Determinism.

Question 2: Who is Benjamine Whorf?

Question 3: What is the Lineal and NonLineal Theory of language?

Question 4: How Are All These Relevant in Understanding The Mindset of Some One Suffering From Chronic WideSpread Pain


1. Linguistic Determinism is the theory that language  not only influences, but determines the way we perceive the world. See post 1 for more information.

2.  Benjamine Whorf (1897-1941) was a linguist who researched Hopi, and published a grammar of the Hopi language. He was also a fire inspector and drew heavily on his work with fire victims for illustrative material.

He argues that language  correlates with perception and that it may actually determine the way people perceive  reality. See post 2 for more information.

3. The belief that some cultures are determined to see the world in a linear form and others in a non-linear form is the correct answer. See this post  for more information.

4. A person suffering from chronic widespread pain may come to believe that his or her description  of the pain may determine  his or her future. That mindset to a large extant buys into the concept of L.D. Also, linear and nonlinear theory implies that the lack of a description of a certain action in a language means that people using that language  can’t perceive the action. this implies that a pain sufferer whose language  lacks an expression of an action can’t perceive of that action.

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How Did You Do?

If you got at least 3 right, then go ahead and start applying what you learned. Otherwise, I encourage you to review the material once more by reading the posts summaries. I wish you luck.

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  1. Dorothy Lee, Lineal and NonLineal Codification of Reality


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How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World–Part3

How to Stop Pain From Determining Your World—Part 3

Welcome back to the third part of the series that focuses on how to stop pain from determining your world. The whole series is a reply to the linguistic  determinist who believe that language not only influences, but determines the way we perceive the world.

Tips on what We Perceive
To Perceive

The first post focused on acknowledging  the feelings of hopelessness that a pain sufferer may have as a result of acknowledging that his  or her world is the way it is because of language. Thus, the only reality is the reality that their language conceives. So, for example, he or she  may perceive themselves to be a  “problem”  because that’s how they keep describing themselves.

The Depression of Determinism
How We Perceive Depression

The second post examined how language influences, according to those who support linguist  determinism, the way we look at the world.

As I said in post 1 of the series , my hope is that even after acknowledging and then showing how language  influences the way a pain sufferer looks at the world, it does not determine how he or she will cope in the future. Thus the final post will be a critique  of linguist Determinism and why I believe even if it’s clear that language  influences the way we perceive the world, it’s not at all clear that it determines the way we perceive the world.

Let’s jump in

To be Linear or Non-Linear

One of the famous tenants  of linguistic determinism is the belief that some cultures are determined to see the world in a linear form, and others in a non-linear form.

Perceiving Linear Reality
Linear Reality


Perceiving Non-Linear Reality
Abstract Reality

If one can show the flaw in this assumption then one can successfully show  that any conclusion based on the same  assumption is also flawed. This means that language does not determine the way we perceive  the world. Which means that someone experiencing widespread chronic pain is not doomed to believe that his or her future will be defined by illness.

Meet Dorothy Lee, The Language Determines Everything Lady

Dorothy Lee in “Lineal and NonLineal Codification of Reality” [1] goes beyond Benjamine Whorf’s suggestion that language influences the way we perceive the world. She believes  that language determines the way we we look at the world. You might say she uses linear and nonlinear logic to explain her view.

Here is What She Says

She strives to show how the language of the people living in the Trobriand Island (of New Guinea) doesn’t have a concept of linear while English calls attention to linear order.

Tips on Non-Linear Believers
Non-Linear Believers

The implication of course is that the Trobrianders look at the world differently from us. Lee states, “Basic to my investigation of the codification of reality on these two societies (Trobriand, English speaking) is the assumption that a member of a given society not only codifies experience through the use of the specific language but that he actually grasp reality only as it is presented to him in this code.” [2]

In other words people grasp reality only through words that are in their language. Here is the flaw in that logic. The Hopi are a Native American people who live in Arizona. Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941) was a linguist who researched Hopi, and published a grammar of the Hopi language.

Flag on Non-Linear People
Hopi Flag

As Whorf points out, the Hopi use a single word to name all flying things except bird. ( air planes, insects, aviators).  Our language has a separate word for each of these things. On the other hand, the Eskimos have many different words for snow—flying snow, slush snow, dry snow— while we get along with one.

What is The Significance of Such Lexical Differences?

Does the fact that a language does not have separate forms for certain phenomena mean that the users of this language are unable to to distinguish the phenomena from each other? Are  most Americans unable to see the differences that Eskimos see in snow? Or take an absurd example, is the Hopi unable to make a visual distinction between an aviator and an insect?

Tips on Perceiving an Aircraft
Perceiving an Aircraft


Perceiving an Insect

It May Just Come Down to Connivence

It seems to me that the reason Eskimos make elaborate distinctions between types of snow is just a matter of convenience. Eskimos more than most Americans constantly need to make distinctions between snow. American skiers on the other hand often are required to also make distinctions between types of snow.

One can say that most Americans make rather elaborate distinctions between types of cars. We have Dodge, Pinto, Mustang, Bug, Station Wagon, Jeep, etc. The distinction is convenient since we make a great use of cars in almost everything we do. But the fact that we can make distinctions  between types of cars does not mean that the Hopi are unable to; it may mean there is no reason for them to do so.

So let’s Get Back to Dorothy Lee

We can now analyze her position with the view that she doesn’t conclusively prove that the Trobrianders look at the world differently from a so called linear language people. One of the things Lee states, in distinguishing the  Trobriander and English language, is that a Trobriander word refers to a “self-contained concept.” She states:

What we consider an attribute of a predicate is to the Trobriander an ingredient. Where I would say, for example, “a good gardener” or “the gardner is good” the Trobriander word would include both “gardener” and “goodness”. If the gardener loses the goodness, he has lost a defining ingredient. He is something else, and he is named by means of a completely different word.[3]

Not Much There

Lee’s observation may at first glance seem like a brand new insight. When you look into it deeper,though, it says less than advertised. it reminds me of a marketer who says his or her product is unique but in reality does something  better than his or her competitors but is not at all unique. So let’s take a closer look at  this so called  “self-contained concept” as it applies to the Trobrianders.

Gardening is a an importune aspect of Trobriander life. Goodness is a standard that everyone who is a gardener must have. That said, don’t we do the same thing with our professions? To illustrate, let’s talk about the plumbing. How many of us have complained that someone is not a “good” plumber because he or she lacked skills that a plumber in the industry has. The implication is that a profession has set standards, and thus one can make the case that because the standards are implicit part of the definition, then in a sense all professions are self-contained. So while Lee’s observation of “self-contained concept” is not at all the big break through it at first seems.


What is The Implication For The Chronic Pain Sufferer?

It means it’s possible, and probable, for a person suffering from chronic widespread pain to have a self-contained concept of a “good day.” This would be a day when the pain is less intense and allows for completion  of tasks that couldn’t be done days when the pain is too much.

Tips on Perceiving a Beautiful Day
Perceiving a Beautiful Day

“On a good day the body can be controlled in order to accomplish activities, and to store up time against a bad day, on which control, and routine, are disrupted.”[4]

Perceiving Happy Girl Playing in Field
Girl Playing in Sunny Field

This would mean ,for example, that a person wanting to do house work would associate  a good day  with the standard of having more control over his or her body because of less pain, and thus able to complete the chores. So certainly  the so called self-contained  concept is not unique to the Trobrianders. We have now  dispensed of the linear and NonLinear, self-contained concept, of the Linguist Determinist and showed that there is a lot that doesn’t add up when  you take the assumptions to their  logical conclusion. In the last post of the series I will address the climax argument. Here is where Lee attempts  to show another example of how the Trobrianders fail to see things in a linear way. I will challenge the assumption and show why I think she is wrong.

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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.


1Dorothy Lee, Lineal and NonLineal Codification of Reality



4Jane C. Richardson, Bie Nio Ong and Julius Sim

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 9 (Jan. 11, 2008) : p3