Can a human being remember pain ?

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


In <701ggt$30m$1 at nnrp1.dejanews.com> darwin20 at my-dejanews.com writes: 
>
>Hello,	A friend and I have been debating about whether or not you
can
>remember the sensation of pain. My friend says that you can remember
the
>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
educated
>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
experience...

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



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