Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back to Science! Superbrainpower-palooza

So maybe this statement is going to sound obvious, but research apparently shows that phantom limbs don't HAVE to obey the laws of physics.

Yeah, when I put it that way it doesn't sound that spectacular, but think about what this means for people who are bound by those same phantom limbs, and the pain induced by them. They don't have to hurt. They can will themselves not to be in pain. They can will the phantom limb into a different and impossible position to make it stop acting up.

So maybe this still seems like common sense to you. But the article takes it a step further. This isn't just about phantom limbs, this is about body image. The way we imagine and see ourselves. The way we THINK our  bodies. The study shows that simply by practicing imagining the body in a different way, our brain essentially believes it to be come so. For people suffering from diseases which stem from poor body image-- like anorexia, as the article mentions-- this could be a huge break through. This is proof that if they close their eyes and practice imagining that their body image is something different, their ideal of beauty, perhaps, that they can, essentially, program their brain to BELIEVE it's the truth.

Proving once again that funny trope that keeps popping up in everything--Belief is power.

When I read the title of the article though, I was really hoping that they were going to talk about how Phantom Limbs could actually physically pick stuff up or something. I guess that's the science fiction geek in me...


  1. Have you read the Gil the ARM stories by Larry Niven?

  2. No, are they about phantom limbs? If they are, I may need to look into them.

  3. You probably want to read them. They're part of Larry Niven's universe called Known Space. Gil Hamilton loses his right arm in a space accident, then discovers the missing limb is replaced by a phantom right arm which actually works. He becomes a cop and each story is an SF detective tale with the paranormal arm always an element.

  4. Sounds great like exactly what I was thinking about when I looked at this article! Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. Aligns with my personal experience that "You'll see it when you believe it!"

  6. You're right, this in particular really does. Thanks for reading/commenting!


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