Praying for Pain ReliefBy Tomrees8
By administering a carefully calibrated shock, electrodes like this can deliver a 5-minutes long burst of sharp pain, but without causing any damage.
Participants were asked either to recite a prayer including the line "Dear God, I pray that you will help to relieve the pain and give me good health" or to recite a similar request to a generic nobody ("Mr Hansen"). Some were not given any instructions, and just sat and endured the pain.
As you can see from the graphic, the only group that reported reduced pain was the religious group who recited a prayer. Across all groups, each individual's expectations about how bad the pain would be were a good predictor of how bad the pain felt.
However, for the religious group reciting a prayer (and that group alone), the amount of pain they reported was also influenced by how strong was their desire for pain relief.
So these results show that religious people (and the religious people in this study were highly religious) feel - or at least report - less pain as a result of prayer, but especially if they really want it to happen.
So much for the psychology, what about the physiology? Well, Jegindø and the team also measured a bunch of physiological markers of pain - things like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate etc.
On the whole, they didn't find much. Although the religious people reported less pain while reciting prayers, their bodies reacted pretty much the same.
However, religious people reading prayers did have a lower breathing rate. That's interesting, because a similar effect has been reported for people meditating. It's a tantalising comparison, although Jegindø warns that these data are very preliminary and should not be over-interpreted.
All-in-all, this new study supports previous studies showing that religion can give pain relief through a kind of placebo effect.
But what's new is that the physiological stress seems to be just as high. It's just that the people who pray and who want it to work say that, well, it really does work!
Jegindø EM, Vase L, Skewes JC, Terkelsen AJ, Hansen J, Geertz AW, Roepstorff A, & Jensen TS (2012). Expectations contribute to reduced pain levels during prayer in highly religious participants. Journal of behavioral medicine PMID: 22772583
This article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed under Creative Commons.
These articles might interest you :
Image by C Jill Reed via Flickr Thomas Arnold once said, “Real knowledge, like everything else of the highest value, is not to be obtained easily. Read moreThe 12 July 2011 by Shawnaschuh
LIFE COACH, SPIRITUALITY
A boost for gay rights in South Africa? 4 men have been sentenced to 18 years in jail for stabbing and stoning to death an openly lesbian 19 year old woman.... Read moreThe 01 February 2012 by Humanwriter
DEBATE, POLITICS, SOCIETY
I'm listening. I'm watching. I'm praying, in my own limping and half-hearted fashion.And I'm trying to hold onto hope, a virtue that is never easy for me. Read moreThe 18 March 2013 by William Lindsey
Mariner 4; Mariner 6; Mariner 7; Mars 3 Orbiter/Lander; Mariner 9; Mars 5; Viking 1 Orbiter/Lander; Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander; Mars Global Surveyor; Mars... Read moreThe 05 November 2013 by Sampathb17
Yesterday, Katrina Fernandez, also known as The Crescat, put this up on Facebook: At Game Stop this evening... girl who works there spies my Catholic medals... Read moreThe 06 April 2013 by Brutallyhonest
A group of naked women attacked Belgian Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard while he was speaking in Brussels and doused him with water from bottles shaped like... Read moreThe 25 April 2013 by Hughvw
A friend of mine from Bet Shemesh was arrested/detained today for davening on Har HaBayit. The claim against him is that he was disturbing the public order and... Read moreThe 22 April 2013 by Gldmeier
RELIGION, SOCIETY, SPIRITUALITY
MOST POPULAR FROM DEBATE
- U.S. Spy Rocket Has Octopus-Themed ‘Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach’ Logo. Seriously. by Eowyn
- Fifth-Grader Suspended for ‘Shooting’ Imaginary ‘Arrow’ at Classmate by Eowyn
- Guns on December 8th: then, now, .......and the future? by Doggone
- The Map of States' Reporting of Mental Health Records by Mikeb302000
Christmas Russia 9/11 Remembered Apps Rick Perry The Company Men Apple Economy Harry Potter Occupy Wall Street Lady Gaga Turkey Lance Armstrong Academy Awards Climate Change Samsung Hurricane Irene China European Union The Box Office North Korea Barack Obama The Olympics Hurricane Sandy Egypt True Blood Thanksgiving Nuclear Energy Halloween John Galliano