- If you are not yet a Down To Earth subscriber, please click here to subscribe: Subscription
- If you are an existing Down To Earth subscriber, please log in to download digital archives.
A simple cost-free way to reduce pain is to bring to mind a favourite sexual fantasy. Peter S Staats and his group at the University of Wisconsin, USA, suggest an entirely new approach to pain therapy. The premise is that emotions are likely to be processed in the thalamus -- a region of the brain which is closely involved in processing pain responses. In an experiment, student volunteers were asked to plunge one of their hands in a tank of ice water and keep it there until they could no longer tolerate the pain. During a second dip, they were randomly assigned into groups. The group which was asked to think of a preferred sexual fantasy such as kissing, flirting and other enjoyable activities with a favourite partner, was able to keep their hand in the ice water more than twice as long as their counterparts in the other groups (three minutes versus a little more than one minute). They also handled pain better, experienced less pain and were less anxious and less depressed than the other groups.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.