Can a human being remember pain ?

F. Frank LeFever flefever at
Wed Oct 14 22:37:21 EST 1998

In <701ggt$30m$1 at> darwin20 at writes: 
>Hello,	A friend and I have been debating about whether or not you
>remember the sensation of pain. My friend says that you can remember
>circumstances that cause pain but not the actual sensation. I think
that you
>can; if you can remember a taste or a smell, why not pain ? Any
>answer would be appreciated.  Thank you,  Damon Collingsworth
 I think you can answer it for yourself, assuming you can agree (with
yourself if with no one else) on your definition for "remember".

If you mean "recognition", I think we can all agree that we can
recognize return of a pain we've felt before--yes, that's the same back
pain I had when I strained it last year!  OR, what is this? I've never
felt a pain quite like this before!

If you mean "recall", I have my doubts; but try it yourself.  Surely
YOU have felt one or another kind of pain one or another place.  Try to
 recall it.  In the case of verbal recall, you can repeat the word you
heard before; some of us can perhaps almost "hear" the tone of voice
you heard saying it, or "see" the line of print in which you saw the
word.  Can you do anything like that with a previously felt pain?  For
THAT matter, is it really true that you can "recall" (i.e. reproduce or
partially re-experience) a smell or taste?  certainly (usual reference
to Proust, etc.) RECOGNITION of smell or taste can be a very striking

F. Rank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group

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