— William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
Context: There is a region in the experience of pain where the certainty of alleviation often permits superhuman endurance. We learn to live with pain in varying degrees daily, or over longer periods of time, and we are more often than not mercifully free of it. When we endure severe discomfort of a physical nature our conditioning has taught us since childhood to make accommodations to the pain’s demands — o accept it, whether pluckily or whimpering and complaining, according to our personal degree of stoicism, but in any case to accept it. Except in intractable terminal pain, there is almost always some form of relief; we look forward to that alleviation, whether it be through sleep or Tylenol or self-hypnosis or a change of posture or, most often, through the body’s capacity for healing itself, and we embrace this eventual respite as the natural reward we receive for having been, temporarily, such good sports and doughty sufferers, such optimistic cheerleaders for life at heart. In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come — not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul. So the decision-making of daily life involves not, as in normal affairs, shifting from one annoying situation to another less annoying — or from discomfort to relative comfort, or from boredom to activity — but moving from pain to pain. One does not abandon, even briefly, one's bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes. VI
„I had been simply treating water, settling on surviving and avoiding pain rather than being actively involved in seeking out life.“
— Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
„Blessed is the almost insensitive tree,
more blessed is the hard stone that doesn't feel,
for no pain is greater than the pain of being alive,
and no sorrow more intense than conscious life.“
— Rubén Darío Nicaraguan poet and writer 1867 - 1916
Dichoso el árbol, que es apenas sensitivo, y más la piedra dura porque esa ya no siente, pues no hay dolor más grande que el dolor de ser vivo, ni mayor pesadumbre que la vida consciente. Cantos de vida y esperanza (1901), "Lo fatal" ("Fatalism") Quoted in Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (1997), p. 305.
— Ali al-Rida eighth of the Twelve Imams 766 - 818
Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.2, p. 16.
— Fernando Pessoa Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher 1888 - 1935
Original: Ah, não há saudades mais dolorosas do que as das coisas que nunca foram! Ibid., p. 111
— Euripidés ancient Athenian playwright -480 - -406 avant J.-C.
— George Savile, 1st Marquess of Halifax English politician 1633 - 1695
— John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
„No state of mind, not even positive suffering, is more painful than the want of interesting objects. The vacant soul preys on itself, and often rushes with impatience from the security which demands no effort, to the brink of peril.“
— William Ellery Channing United States Unitarian clergyman 1780 - 1842
Context: One of the great springs of war may be found in a very strong and general propensity of human nature, in the love of excitement, of emotion, of strong interest; a propensity which gives a charm to those bold and hazardous enterprises which call forth all the energies of our nature. No state of mind, not even positive suffering, is more painful than the want of interesting objects. The vacant soul preys on itself, and often rushes with impatience from the security which demands no effort, to the brink of peril.