"These days, trauma is a commodity. Pain is a status symbol. Suffering brings brownie points. Losers are winners now. We suckle on stories of suffering. Ours, theirs.

"We wade through tales of pain, project ourselves into that hurricane, that hospital, that vestry with that pedophile of the cloth.

"Victims are lionized celebrities, sobbing across the screen, the stage, the page. As displayed by the mainstream media, survivors are heroes today, less because they survived than because they almost did not. Their pain is the whole point, not their recovery. Their pain is what perverse consumers crave. We have made industries of pain. Trauma now dominates our discourse, infusing each aspect of our lives: news, entertainment, education, literature, with endless variations on it hurts so bad. This revved up in the early 1970s and shows no sign of slowing down.

"We compete to see who hurts worst.

"We polish scars to shine like stars."