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To truly laugh you must be able to take your pain and play with it! - Charlie Chaplin

Mind Trip of the Week # 62: Change your Brain’s Image of Pain

We know what you are thinking (because that’s what we do!) –  You are thinking these binoculars are backwards. You are not supposed to look through the big ends because that would make objects smaller, not larger, and it would defeat the whole purpose of having binoculars in the first place.

Well, you are right…unless you have pain. Then looking through the wrong end of binoculars just might help. In 2008, Researchers at Oxford University had 10 people with chronic arm pain participate in a research study.

“The researchers asked the patients to watch their own arm while they performed a standardized set of ten hand movements. The participants repeated the movements under four conditions: with no visual manipulation, while looking through binoculars with no magnification, while looking through binoculars that doubled the apparent size of their arm, and while looking through inverted binoculars that reduced the apparent size of their arm.

Specifically, the pain increased more when participants viewed a magnified image of their arm during the movements, and—perhaps more surprisingly—the pain became less when their arm was seen through inverted binoculars that minimized its size.” (ScienceDaily.com)

“The authors suggest that manipulating the image of the hand may have altered the participants’ sense of “ownership” of their painful limb. Viewing magnified images of their hands may have made the participants more aware that the limb belonged to them, thus increasing their sensitivity to the painful sensations originating from it. Conversely, the minifying condition may have “alienated” the participants’ arms, reducing their sense of ownership of their limb and thus desensitizing them to the pain felt in them.” (Moheb Costandi in Scientific American)

So next time you are in pain, pull out that set of binoculars from the closet and look at your painful body parts – it may just make the pain go away.

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