Viewing One’s Body Can Reduce the Pain: Study

Scientists from the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy and the University College London claim that just by looking at one’s body can reduce the pain. Viewing the hand lessens the pain experienced when we touch a hot object. The level of pain largely depends upon the size of the hand. Larger hands have greater effect on the pain reduction.

18 participants were subjected to heat probe on the left hand.The temperature was increased gradually and the participants were asked to stop the heat as soon as they experienced pain. The researchers used mirrors to change what the participants saw. This way, they were either looking at a wooden object or their own hand. The team observed that just by looking at their hand reduced the levels of pain. The threshold of the pain was around 3 degrees C higher when viewing the hand than the wooden object. Similarly, when the hand was enlarged through manipulation, the tolerance level was greater. It was lower when the hand was seen as smaller.

The study suggests the experience of pain is related to the body’s image which the brain forms. Thinking away from the stimulus which causes pain can help one tolerate the pain. Looking at the arm can prove beneficial in such circumstances.The study appears in the journal Psychological Science.

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