A research paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research group recently found that Americans are prone to perceive and report more pain than people from other nations. Additionally, American doctors are quick to suggest treatment (NBER). The number of Americans who perceive and report pain is only increasing. In fact, over 100 million Americans claim that they have chronic pain (PainMed).
According to Iconoculture, in a survey issued across 30 countries, more respondents from America than any other country indicated that they “very often” or “often” feel aches and pains. Australia and the UK followed close behind, but the average nation reported significantly lower rates of experiencing pain. While language affects how people think and explain their pain, experts suggest that high obesity rates and overuse of painkillers might be causing additional comfort in the U.S.
American pain may also be psychological or cultural. Mark Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington, suggests that unhappiness and pain complaints go together. Sullivan notes that the “American Dream” comes with high expectations that lead to stress and disappointment, especially for those living in poverty. Additionally, he believes that it is uniquely American to assume that all aches and pains can be treated and cured.