September 18, 2002
12:23 PM   Subscribe

What is pain? It can get pretty technical. There are several different theories. Regardless of what you think pain is, it turns out that men can deal with it better than women. *Flexes muscles*
posted by Yelling At Nothing (33 comments total)
*breaks Yelling At Nothing's nose*

does it hurt?

Seriously, I think pain is a cultural thing, not a m/f thing

Interesting read, haven't finished though.
posted by ginz at 12:31 PM on September 18, 2002

Cold's definitely a m/f thing. If it's below 60 degrees, every female I know will make a big show of shivering and complaining.

posted by callmejay at 12:37 PM on September 18, 2002

The trouble with that theory is -- it's wrong. And now men have the science to prove it.

"The laboratory research seems to indicate that for many kinds -- but not all kinds -- of stimuli, women have a lower tolerance for pain," says Linda LeResche, ScD, a professor of oral medicine at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

Linda is a man?
posted by ginz at 12:47 PM on September 18, 2002

Thanks, I needed that link for my next argument with my wife over the superior nature of women.

As for me, well..... I handle pain okay, although I'm no Superman. Some of us, however, handle pain a lot better than others.
posted by bradth27 at 12:49 PM on September 18, 2002

Regardless of what you think pain is, it turns out that men can deal with it better than women.

Some men, under some stimuli. For instance, to continue the italics abuse, I am a man, but I am also a total wussy.
posted by Skot at 12:56 PM on September 18, 2002

Another pro in the cause for Male Pregnancy!
posted by culberjo at 1:03 PM on September 18, 2002

That won't work bradth27, because then we just use the argument that we are smarter because we acknowledge pain, while you dumb men just stomp around ignoring it.

My husband broke a toe 15 years ago and it still hurts. Yeah, he had a high pain level (haha) Never went to a doctor.

Men *sigh*
posted by ginz at 1:03 PM on September 18, 2002

From my unscientific study of patients I am familiar with the men are the least likely to bear pain well.

Oh well, just wait for the next study to come along - the findings will probably contradict those of this one!
posted by sillygit at 1:12 PM on September 18, 2002

But ginz, if we acknowledge the pain then us dumb men are wimps. Gosh, it seems like we can't win that argument. Must be a ... whatcha call it again? ... double standard?
posted by hurkle at 1:12 PM on September 18, 2002

there's a very good article about pain in daniel dennett's brainstorms. i can't remember the aim of the article, but the incidental detail was fascinating - did you know, for example, that to reduce the risk of you dying, you're "only just unconscious" when under general anaesthetic in an operating theatre? and that it's possible you may feel pain? and that if the anaesthetist suspects you have felt pain, they may give you another drug to make you forget it...?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:22 PM on September 18, 2002

hurkle: yep
posted by ginz at 1:22 PM on September 18, 2002

I have to agree with ginz...not to bring up my husband's appendix twice in the same week, but one of the reasons he almost died is because he sat around for probably 3 or 4 hours after it burst, since he thought a burst appendix would "hurt worse than that".
posted by JoanArkham at 1:22 PM on September 18, 2002

It's not that we "dumb men" ignore pain, it's just that we deal with it better.
Let me explain.
Situation- Brad walks across rocky driveway, checks mail at end of road, walks back across driveway, stops, looks at the bottom of his feet and makes a bad face, and then carries mail into house.
Situation #1, with wife- Sherri does same thing the next day. Upon first step, screams like a baby, comes back in house, and tells me to go check the mail.

Whereas I immediately go do it. barefoot.

Wait, I AM stupid.

Never mind.
posted by bradth27 at 1:25 PM on September 18, 2002

Is this another excuse to support the argument "It is ok for a women to kick a guy in the balls?"


that's why i wear a cup everywhere...
At Work, At Home, At Play...
My Ball's are A-OK...

"so i guess this means i cant smack my future wife around?"


I kid... I kid... Cause I Care...
posted by Dreamghost at 1:26 PM on September 18, 2002

Wait, I AM stupid. Yeah, wear shoes next time.
posted by ginz at 1:32 PM on September 18, 2002

Still tying to read the technical stuff. Still failing to understand it. Which is a pity, cause it sort of stands in the way of me making an intelligent comment on this subject.
posted by ginz at 1:51 PM on September 18, 2002

The way these studies, as described in the article, were conducted certainly seems to leave them open to the effect of cultural rather than inherent traits. They gave participants stimuli, and then asked them at what point they became painful...there's no way to measure or compare what the participants were actually feeling, of course. I'm not taking it as gospel by any means until someone comes up with a biological basis for these alleged differences.

I think that reacting to pain is a very touchy issue for (many, if not most) (Western, at least)'s really really drilled into a lot of little boys that they're wimps or not manly if they feel pain, so they of course learn not to show it and probably not even to acknowledge it to themselves. Yep, this is one of the many ways in which the "war between the sexes" crap hurts men just as much as women, and why we should all be on the same side in the first place!

I'm all done with the soapbox now, if anyone needs it...
posted by hilatron at 2:49 PM on September 18, 2002

I have to agree with ginz- men ignore their pain much more then women. My father had a nagging back pain for 23 years that he neglected to have treated. Finally, he had to have it looked at after he had a defibrillator/pacemaker put in to regulate his heart (ahhh, heart attack at 38, refereed a college basketball game, waited 12 hours to go to the hospital....). Turns out that my father had an aortic aneurysm the size of a hefty sweet potato, and could have keeled over any second.
Dad ignored his pain for years, so you could say he was the one ideal of steely-jawed reserve. Then again, he certainly took his pain out on his family, and wouldn't communicate the reason for his distress. This has nothing to do with physical wimpishness, but mental.
posted by oflinkey at 2:55 PM on September 18, 2002

I am always hurting myself to show how tough I am.

in the end I just hurt
posted by kileregreen at 3:00 PM on September 18, 2002

For the sake of adequate pain therapy, I would like to ask all women to take this study to their doctors.
I've broken things and had all 4 wisdom teeth extracted at once, not to mention various aches and pains. Not once - NOT ONCE - did I get any of the cool painkillers. Measly codeine tablets, that's what I get. Now that there is scientific evidence that I can't handle pain all that well, I want some of the groovy stuff.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:04 PM on September 18, 2002

posted by moonbiter at 3:05 PM on September 18, 2002

...NOT ONCE - did I get any of the cool painkillers... Salmonberry

Good just have sadists for doctors, that's all there is to that. I got Darvon when I had my wisdom teeth pulled and Demerol while i was recovering from knee surgery...and a morphine drip while I was in the hospital. Ok...the morphine drip was probably for the benefit of the nursing staff more than me...but still...I had a button that I could press. I was like a monkey with the damn button...I loved the button. :)

Now, we'll find out in 6-8 weeks how tough I really am, when I have to go into labor. Although, I'm thinking, if they'd give me the button back, I'd be ok. ;) (Yes, I know, they don't let you have a morphine drip for labor...those bastards. heh.)
posted by dejah420 at 5:25 PM on September 18, 2002

The "social construct" idea has some merit. I'd rather have a lower pain threshold than be expected to live in pain 24 hours a day without asking for help.
posted by Hildago at 5:50 PM on September 18, 2002

dejah, here you go: Labor Pain Medication at a Glance

email me for more info....and is it a "terror" baby? ; >
posted by amberglow at 6:12 PM on September 18, 2002

I think dealing with pain and tolerating pain are different things. I don't see how this experiment could be so accurate. Okay, so maybe woman said they felt cold first...but that is only one, specific type of pain, and it is just their sensitivity to it rather than how they will deal with it. I think it is rather hard to measure this when there are so many variables. Maybe the men just held out longer automatically before saying that they felt cold. Or, what hilatron said above. Heh.
posted by puffin at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2002

posted by holloway at 6:48 PM on September 18, 2002

I don't know about the pain theory, but I know from experience that men whine much more when they are sick. At least when they are home and there is someone to fuss over them.

Mothers of small children, on the other hand, are not allowed to be sick.

*both verified in field testing*
posted by konolia at 7:35 PM on September 18, 2002

At least in the supposedly macho Latin countries, konolia's anecdotal findings are borne out by experience. Women complain; men whine. Well, we all whine - but we men do it a lot more and women encourage this because they unfailingly react with limitless cosseting and compassion. It's a radically "oh, you poor darling!" /"you mollycoddle my little pain/I'll mollycoddle yours" culture. I hear Japan is very similar.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:57 PM on September 18, 2002

I think holloway is trying to tell us something.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:15 PM on September 18, 2002

Oh darn, you've got me.
posted by holloway at 10:54 PM on September 18, 2002

Couldn't get to the aol link.
posted by pyr at 12:08 AM on September 19, 2002

Pain is just weakness leaving the body...
posted by hellinskira at 1:25 PM on September 19, 2002

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