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  1. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Torturing someone who can't feel fear?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Adam Bolander, Apr 2, 2020.

    How would someone who can't feel fear react to being tortured? He can feel pain just fine, but he isn't afraid of it. I've been brainstorming about it all day, and I've come up with two scenarios that sound equally likely. What do you think?

    1. The torture is completely ineffective. He isn't afraid of the pain you'll cause him, so he sees no reason to comply with whatever you're demanding.

    2. The pain, even though he's not afraid of it, still hurts enough that he would give in just to make it stop.
     
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  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    Option 2 is what sounds right to me. Pain hurts! Unless the torturee is some kind of zen master who can literally switch off pain receptors and generate massive quantities of endorphins or whatever it is they do to not react to the pain.

    They say if somebody has a really good reason to do so, they can apparently survive in rougher situations and put up with a lot more pain and suffering without cracking, like if they have a family (usually with small children) and don't believe they could get by alone. Or some kind of unfinished job that they think of as much more than a job, like a mission that they absolutely MUST complete.

    The people who survived concentration camps mostly had reasons like these.
     
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    Option 2.
    Pain hurts whether you're afraid of it or not. It would probably be a rational decision for him, though.
     
  4. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Or torture/threaten to torture someone he cares about, like his child. Even if he doesn't feel fear, he may feel enough love and caring for that person to give in.
     
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  5. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

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    Like Patrick Swayze's Dalton said in the movie Road House: "Pain don't hurt." :cool: Alluding to @Xoic 's post above, Swayze's character was in fact a zen philosopher/martial artist who was able to ignore physical pain.

    Obviously very few people are like that, though.

    Maybe the character has some other form of pain that can be exploited. Mental, spiritual, emotional, etc. Perhaps the torture could be psychological rather than, or in addition to, physical.
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    ^ They could make him listen to Yoko Ono at extreme volume day and night till he cracks. :cry:
     
  7. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    "You're a monster!" :p
     
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  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    Wait—CDN Writer... aren't you deaf? How could you know the horror that is Yoko Ono? :superconfused:
     
  9. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    What about someone who is specifically trained to resist such as a spy/secret agent a la 007?

    Think the scene in Casino Royale where Daniel Craig's 007 is being tortured by having his testicles whipped. Or Daniel Washington's character being waterboarded in "Safe House" - I know these were movies but I believed #1 that such things could happen and #2 that people can resist the pain. Whether or not it's true.....

    I'd go with #1.
     
  10. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, I am. I'm just familiar with the expression.
     
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  11. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    As others have pointed out, Not feeling fear does not equal not feeling pain. One question though: Is the torturer aware of the fact that he cannot feel fear? Part of the effectiveness of torture is the intimidation factor-Play on the fear to get the answers you want quickly. If the know he cannot feel fear, they would likely skip any minor intimidation efforts and go straight to the pain.
     
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  12. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Lying, dog-faced pony Marine Supporter Contributor

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    Fearing pain and feeling pain are two different things. Someone with an extreme fear of pain can be broken just with the threat of pain being inflicted on them. That might work with someone who has been tortured before, knows what's coming, and feels that the benefits of giving in outweigh the importance of holding out. In Robert Heinlein's Friday, the agents were taught (it's been thirty years since I read it) to spill everything after a certain amount of time. Code words are only good for a few days at best, patrol patterns change, and compartmentalization is designed to stop any one person from knowing too much.

    However, someone could have absolutely no fear of pain but be extremely sensitive to it and spill everything at the first whack of a ruler across the knuckles. I've seen men go down from having blood drawn in a clinical setting and heard of women who gave birth multiple times with no anesthesia whatsover, each person's tolerance differs.
     
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  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Also waterboarding.
     
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  14. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    I remember that book and that scene. She even refers to the people as amateurs for resorting to torture because she had told them everything that she knew, so the torture gained them exactly nothing.
     
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  15. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    Feed him his family bit by bit.
     
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  16. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    One of my favorite exchanges from Firefly (probably paraphrased):
    Mal: I've given Jain here the job of extracting that information.
    Jayne: (holding a giant combat knife): He was non-specific as to how.
    Mal: (Quietly to Jain): Now you only have to scare him.
    Jayne: Well pain is scary.
     
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  17. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor Contest Winner 2022

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    Pain means you can feel it and that means you are alive. Exhilarating to someone like you describe. It is all about what you fear. If you fear pain you will most likely be scared and be consumed by it. If you fear death but not pain that is a whole new level. If you don't fear death or pain then the person torturing you should run.
     
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  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Tickle torture is a thing...sorta. o_O
    You can actually die of laughter, by
    not getting enough oxygen to the
    body. Also you can laugh so hard that
    you pee your pants. So, that is an option
    on the table for you to consider. :p

    Rub styrofoam together, that will surely
    crack even the most hardened badass. :bigeek:
     
  19. dbesim

    dbesim Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    While option 2 seems like the more rational reaction, option 1 seems more like a component for a more interesting story-line. You could do so much more with that in terms of getting the hero to “break” the enemy instead of letting his enemies “break” him. It also seems like the route that may weave the way for more interesting (plot-related) possibilities.

    .. therefore, option 1? :p
     
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  20. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

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    I was thinking more about your question. I did mention "waterboarding" above - this is what US military used to torture information out of terrorists in Iraq and other places, correct? Are there records of this? Who, what, where, etc? How long did they do it for? Was it effective - or did people *say* anything to make it stop?

    Also, what about the Spanish inquisition? Any records survive of that era as to how torture worked?

    I really think if you're looking to torture someone, it's probably to inflict pain and suffering on them, not for information because realistically, everyone breaks. At some point each and every person will tell you what you want to know - usually - unless they are some type of machoist or have superhuman pain tolerance.
     
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  21. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    :superidea:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_insensitivity_to_pain
     
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  22. Josie Grenwood

    Josie Grenwood New Member

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    I feel like I'm late to this discussion, but I'm going to add my two cents anyway!

    The first thing I thought of when you said this was, what if the torturer uses the fact he does not feel fear against him. Effectively making out that he's not normal, or even 'human' for not fearing something that to most (if not all people) would be inherently natural to fear. Maybe they could poke at things like the MC wouldn't fear a loved one dying or a child, or even go one step further and say they must be capable of terrible things because they simply do not fear the consequences. Making the MC feel like a heartless/ deranged person.

    The torturer could use this as a mind game and the MC may not even been aware he's being mentally tortured. This could cause the MC to break out in say an angry reaction or give in, to prove he's none of the things stated.

    Mental torture can be just as powerful as physical violence, and creates a different kind of internal battle for the character. One which wouldnt leave any physical scars.

    I also like idea 2. If he can still feel pain then naturally he's going to want it to stop, even if he doesn't fear it, because let's face it who likes being in pain. Do I think he'd be able to feel it as strongly as someone who is scared half to death, then no. Genuine fear creates symptoms of its own often worsening the situation I.e, sweating, vomiting, incontinence ect. Your character wouldnt necessarily have all of those things. (Depending on the type of torture that's occurring.) because they don't feel fear.

    Interesting concept though! I don't do a lot of this type of writing so it got the old brain cogs working a little anyway.
     
  23. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    How does this pertain [hew] to the reader? It might just be boring to read.

    'I'm going to stick screwdrivers through your eyes...in ten minutes time, mwoah hah...'

    'Okay, will there be a chance to eat, and to maybe go for a pee first, jailor?'
     
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  24. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    dryjailorboy
     
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  25. psychotick

    psychotick Contributor Contributor

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    Hi,

    Ok, I'm going to say your character confuses me. He can't know fear? That's extremely weird. There are plenty of people who can't feel pain for whatever reason - that's just a nerve / brain thing. But fear's an emotion. I grant you someone who couldn't feel pain wouldn't be afraid of it. But he can, which means you have to be talking about some sort of deep seated emotional / psychiatric problem.

    All the typical answers I could think of don't really work. Because say you threaten to mutilate him - cut off bits and pieces - or harm his loved ones - I still have to ask the obvious question. If he's not afraid of pain even though he can feel it and knows what it is, why would he be afraid of being mutilated or losing family? Why would he have an emotional response to them and not pain? Is he a robot?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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