New research out of the University of West Terrier indicates that Humans are, in fact, capable of feeling pain.
It was the immediacy of the reaction that convinced us that not only did the subjects actually feel the physical pain inflicted on them but they were able to display clearly the effects of that feeling.—Dr. Maarit Paarma, UWT Department of Human Studies
The results of a study conducted by researchers from the UWT Department of Human Studies demonstrates “beyond doubt” that Humans not only feel physical pain, but they react to it in much the same way as other Animals do, the study’s author says.
Dr. Maarit Paarma, who oversaw the study of more than two thousand Human subjects, says she was surprised by the findings, but cannot argue with them.
“Even though there has been a great deal of speculation in this area over the years, we didn’t expect to refute earlier findings so decisively,” she says. “That was the biggest surprise—that there was, at the end, no doubt in our minds.”
Paarma’s two-part study, which examined Humans in isolation and in groups of varying sizes, concluded that Humans’ reactions to stings, bites, and other types of injuries were consistent with what are believed to be reactions to feeling pain.
“The reactions that we saw—and some of them were quite violent—were similar to the types of reactions that other Animals have when they are wounded,” Paarma says. “We concluded from this and other evidence that our Human subjects were quite capable of both feeling physical pain and of reacting to it.”
During the course of the five-year study, Paarma’s research subjects sustained a number of bites, stings, and blows to the arms, thighs, calves, stomach, and chest. The reactions to these injuries were “immediate,” says Paarma.
“We had concerns, as had other researchers before us, that Humans might simply be mimicking the normal reactions of other Animals. It was the immediacy of the reaction, however, that convinced us that not only did the subjects actually feel the physical pain inflicted on them but they were able to display clearly the effects of that feeling,” she said.
The results of the study could have wide implications, Paarma admits, but she would like to see other studies conducted before making any long-term recommendations. Still, she does believe that some alterations to our behaviour might be in order.
“Based on this new knowledge, I think we do have to take a closer look at the way we view and deal with Humans,” she says.
The results of the study will be published in the December issue of the prestigious Journal of Human Behaviour (JHB).