I've always wondered about this and would love to hear about your insight/experiences. On several cooking shows and in cookbooks, they'll say something along the lines of, "Put some oil in the pan over high heat and let it get really hot and then put "X" on and let it brown..."
I understand the idea is to get good browning/flavor, but what about damaging the pan? I don't have a big enough cast iron pan, so I usually use a 12" All-Clad or Calphalon frypan and they specifically say "Unless boiling, use only med-high heat" because the aluminum or the cladded layers can warp or melt. So am I just being too cautious by keeping the burners shy of high?