Medicine: Pain Puzzle

The startling spectacle of the Indian fakir snuggled down on his bed of nails, or the martyr thrusting his hand into the flames, has often been explained by medical science on the basis of emotional disturbances (usually hysteria). In other cases, failure to react to pain may be due to severe mental retardation or physical damage to the nervous system. But there remains a baffling group of individuals to whom none of these explanations can be applied, and who show no reaction to pain of virtually any kind.

More than a dozen such cases have been reported, writes Britain's famed Neurologist Macdonald...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!