Daily Archives: February 24, 2009

The Religious Ecstasy of Pain

imagesThe idea of looking at images of the Virgin Mary while administering electric shocks to the devout just seems too much like some form of modern flagellation or at least Orwellian conditioning experiment. I did not think that sort of experiment got ethical approval these days. I have enough trouble with my own board just on the wording of some stupid consent form that most people don’t understand anyway.  

Yet Oxbridge researchers have reported a study showing that practicing Catholics can tolerate more pain induced by electric shock when they look at portraits of Jesus’s mum compared to a control picture. Non-religious individuals did not show any modulated pain tolerance when looking at the two images. 

religious-imagesJust in case you didn’t know, the one of the left is the Virgin Mary.

Brain imaging also revealed increased activation of the prefrontal regions of the brain which controls and suppresses emotional responses, leading to the very outrageous claim in the report that pain should not be viewed so negatively but has positive association for Catholics. Well there’s a surprise. Talk about a loaded research agenda.

Pass me the spikey belt. I feel the need to give myself a damn good thrashing.


Filed under Research