Suffering  

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"Right is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." -- Thucydides

Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
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Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Suffering is usually described as a negative basic feeling or emotion that involves a subjective character of unpleasantness, aversion, harm or threat of harm.

  • Suffering may be said physical or mental, depending whether it refers to a feeling or emotion that is linked primarily to the body or to the mind. Examples of physical suffering are pain, nausea, breathlessness, and itching. Examples of mental suffering are anxiety, grief, hatred, and boredom.
  • There is much ambiguity in the use of the words pain and suffering. Sometimes they are synonyms and interchangeable. Sometimes they mean different things, or they may even be used in contradistinction to one another: e.g. "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional", "pain is physical, suffering is mental". Sometimes yet, like in the previous paragraph, they are defined in another way.
  • The intensity of suffering comes in all degrees, from the triflingly mild to the unspeakably insufferable. Other factors often considered along with intensity are duration and frequency of occurrence.
  • People's attitudes toward a suffering may vary hugely according to how much they deem it is light or severe, avoidable or unavoidable, useful or useless, of little or of great consequence, deserved or undeserved, chosen or unwanted, acceptable or unacceptable.

All sentient beings admittedly suffer during their lives, in various manners, and much often dramatically. Therefore, suffering is an important topic in many fields of human activity. Those fields are concerned with, for instance, the personal or social or cultural behaviors related to suffering, the nature or causes of suffering, its meaning or significance, its remedies or management or uses.

Examples of mental suffering

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...

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Suffering" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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