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Eating Explain Pain

By David Butler Education for all 10 Aug 2018

On social media sites and in clinics all over, we often hear people saying “but I read Explain Pain,” as they list the therapies they have encountered for their ongoing pain. Patients and health professionals may be missing some basic Educational Psychology fundamentals.


Instruction and learning are different.
Instruction is an action the Deliverer undertakes, such as handing out a book or telling a story. The goal of instruction is to promote learning.

Learning is a process and not a product.
“Explain Pain” won’t work if you eat it or rub it on the sore bit. It’s not a pill or a potion. Learning for lasting impact nearly always takes time and it’s a dynamic process. Short term change does not reflect learning. This is particularly relevant here as pain is also a process not a product.

Learning is not something done to learners. You ‘do’ learning to yourself.   Learning happens when the learner does something with the information and responds to that experience.

Informed health professionals can power up the process
Information comes in many domains.

(Adapted from Mayer RE (2008) Learning and Instruction, Pearson)

But on reflection, maybe we do want people to eat Explain Pain, to devour it and take it deep to every corner of their body and into the very marrow of their bones!.

– David


  1. Such a great concept!
    I always have them give back to me through their learning process. I even learn a little more about this process through their experience. I do agree learningbis not a product. It’s a process that hopefully grows over a life time. I often experience that thing “oh I got it!” after a few sessions, especially with the Yoga. I encourage them not to grasp at the concepts but rather “digest the information, assimilate, and transform it into something inside you. And then see what it feels like 7 years later…..” David, I appreciate you and the wisdom you share.
    – Shawn

    1. davidbutler0noi

      Thanks Shawn,

      And there is probably no better measure of whether learning has taken place than the response to the question “what did you take from the information,, exercise, class etc . Skilled therapists sometimes don’t have to ask – they just observe.



  2. If I feel my pain right down into my bones then the knowledge has, also, to sink that deep, to bring about conceptual changes in my thinking and pain experience. It simply just takes a lot of time and patience, a resource that we sadly often don’t have 🙁
    DB Sardinia🍷

    1. davidbutler0noi

      Hi David,

      Being in Sardinia would surely help! ‘It must sink deep as it is deep ” is a great story line that I am going to borrow.



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