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True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Christianity & Science  > Faith helps through life’s pains

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Old 04-02-2009, 09:23 PM
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Default Faith helps through life’s pains

It seems that you guys have a greater tolerance to pain than I might (or is it just Catholics..?). This is from the following web page (which I discovered after an article in the Financial Review):

cienciahoje.pt/index.php?oid=27921&op=all

...the researchers used 12 practicing Catholics and 12 non-religious voluntaries, submitting both groups to an electrical shock, during which they were shown either a religious or a non-religious image, and while registering their brain activity. After this the subjects were asked to record the intensity of the pain felt during the pulse, as well as their like/dislike for each of the images. The pictures chosen – a painting of the Virgin Mary called ‘‘Vergine annunciate” by Sassoferrato and ‘‘Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci as the non-religious control – were aesthetically very similar.

Interestingly, it was found that the religious group reported much less pain if watching the Virgin Mary during the electrical stimulus, despite the fact that both groups had, previously, been shown to have similar pain sensitivity. When commenting on the images, the Catholic subjects, as expected, expressed a higher liking for the Virgin Mary, while the non-religious group preferred the da Vinci’s print and even had negative feelings towards the Virgin. These observations support the idea that the changes in pain perception were linked to the religious content of the Virgin image, and not the result of a preference towards an image, since the non-religious group had no pain scores’ changes while watching its preferred da Vinci’s image.


I can understand religious fervour getting people to a point where they can withstand or ignore pain, but this really surprised me.

And apropos nothing at all, one of the scientists involved is a dead set double for Princess Anne.
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Old 04-03-2009, 06:03 AM
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Default Re: Faith helps through life’s pains

Interesting, but I would like to see this research coupled with studies on the rise of endorphins and hormones during the experiment. I think that they would find a definite correlation as the research already exists showing the rise in hormones (women) assists in pain tolerance and increased endorphins lead to the feeling of contentment, pleasure. So for religious individuals, exposure to a worship stimulating experience theoretically would increase the release of endorphins or hormones as well. Now, would this trigger or add to the firing of the neurotransmitters sited here in increasing pain tolerance?

And for the non-religious: did they have any reason to believe that displaying a classic work of art would act as a positive stimuli? Were they art lovers, or just have a common reaction to the print? They "preferred" the da Vinci print over the Virgin - but would something they related to give an equal response to the one Catholics would have for the Virgin?

But my real question: why were you surprised? What would you have thought would happen?
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:44 AM
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Default Re: Faith helps through life’s pains

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Originally Posted by NotFinishedYet View Post
But my real question: why were you surprised? What would you have thought would happen?
I'll take the second point first. I didn't really expect anything to happen at all. I know that feeling strong emotions (religion, love, hate) can have effects that will affect your response to pain, but I never thought that something as inconsequential as looking at a picture would trigger the same effect.

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Originally Posted by NotFinishedYet View Post
but would something (the non-religious) related to give an equal response to the one Catholics would have for the Virgin?
Yeah, now thinking about it...maybe the control picture could have been something that would be equally expected to engender emotion, rather than a simple aesthetically pleasing painting. Show me a piccie of the goal that got Australia into the World Cup 4 years ago and I still feel pumped, so I guess I'd feel less pain 'cos of the chemical rush. I couldn't conceive that a picture of the virgin Mary would have people react in a similar way.

And some people class sport as their religion. There's gotta be a thread there - so many comparisons that I could draw.
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:18 AM
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Default Re: Faith helps through life’s pains

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad View Post
I'll take the second point first. I didn't really expect anything to happen at all. I know that feeling strong emotions (religion, love, hate) can have effects that will affect your response to pain, but I never thought that something as inconsequential as looking at a picture would trigger the same effect.
Hmmm..... I guess I expect visual things to create feelings of awe and emotions. When I was diagnosed a few years ago with glaucoma and cancer within 2 weeks of each other, it was the glaucoma that got to me. I was angry as..... well, heck! Why: because while the cancer could ultimately kill me that was not a bad thing: but loosing my sight was. I'd never see misty mountains, gorgeous sunsets, flowers as seen by Georgia O'keefe again. That was not acceptable to me. I stand in total awe before paintings of bloody saints and chubby angels, so I'd be more surprised if the Virgin did not evoke a response.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
Yeah, now thinking about it...maybe the control picture could have been something that would be equally expected to engender emotion, rather than a simple aesthetically pleasing painting. Show me a piccie of the goal that got Australia into the World Cup 4 years ago and I still feel pumped, so I guess I'd feel less pain 'cos of the chemical rush. I couldn't conceive that a picture of the virgin Mary would have people react in a similar way.
That's the ticket! I have no doubt at that moment (or even reflecting on that pic today) your neuro transmiiters woulda gone wild and you would have been oblivious to the needles being stuck in ya.

What saddens me with the religion thing though is the general thought among Evangelic Protestants (ya know I'm neither C or P) that the aesthetics of iconography has no role in worship. They purge their structures of most all beauty except crosses arguing that to do otherwise is to "worship" saints, etc. They do not understand the thoughts in Eastern Orthodoxy that to surround yourself with these images is only to kindle your closeness to Heaven. Give me a structure with stand glass windows, walls ladened with religious images (not bloody ones though LOL), light me a candle, burn your incenses. All draws me closer to God.

Quote:
And some people class sport as their religion. There's gotta be a thread there - so many comparisons that I could draw.
Go for it: I'm sure I've seen pics of Jesus playing soccer for sale in Christian bookshops! Some one will take up the topic with ya!
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