I have no fondness for pain per se. And I can even imagine taking a draught of something myself one day, were some pain to become utterly intolerable. I do understand. And, yes, even understand that helping others to do it can sometimes be an act of mercy.
But it is also right to push back against the general assumption that pain reduction is unproblematic. For pain is so much a part of life that its suppression can also be a suppression of a great deal of that which is valuable. Constantly anaesthetising ourselves against pain is also a way to reduce our exposure to so much that is wonderful about life.
Yet too many of us make a Faustian pact with pharmacology, welcoming its obvious benefits, but ignoring the fact that drugs also can demand your soul. That's perhaps why we speak of the overly drugged-up as zombies.
Giles Fraser, My Problem With Euthanasia (Guardian 3 May 2013)
I have written before on this blog about the biological function of pain. In Cycle of Pain Relief, I discussed how pain relief becomes the problem, illustrated by the last 48 hours of Kurt Cobain. And in Back Pain, while sympathizing with Scott (Dilbert) Adams, who had complained about his own back pain and suggested that his back was evil, I suggested that sometimes it was the painkillers that were evil - especially the casual use of painkillers - because they interfere with the natural communication between the mind and the body, and the natural balance of work, rest and play. See also my post on The Purpose of Labour Pains.