Azul IV by Eric Abrecht.
From Volume 1 of Julian May's The Galactic Mileau Trilogy -Jack the Bodiless (1991):
. . Jack also queried Marc's views on the notion, held by a fair number of thinkers, that pain was an educative tool and the ordeal a potential pathway to higher levels of consciousness.
Now, whilst Jack's psycho-somatic problems are fictional, and sci-fi at that, May's opinion of them, or those 'held by a fair number of thinkers' are on a par to the realities we sometimes face.
Sorry, but a more in-depth reading of May's work would be necessary to understand its intricacies. Saying which, I've just met an ex-nurse that agrees with its principles.