A character of mine is supposed to be tortured to death. Most of the pain will be inflicted by nanotechnology injected into her, however the guy injecting her is a real sadist and likes the personal aspect of the injection. Given the fact that he has a huge, old-school syringe;


how does he inflict as much pain as possible without making it seem like he is actually torturing her?

Where to put the syringe?

Note: I've come across a meta discussion some time ago about "obviously perverted and degrading questions" and how to deal with them. I could see how this question could be perceived as such a question. It is not and the question of how to inflict a lot of pain with minimal effort is quite intriguing in a worldbuilding and storytelling context. Should this question be considered inappropriate I'm happy to take it down though.

  • $\begingroup$ Pain is entirely relative and context dependent, there's no such thing as "as much pain as possible". What I think you're looking for is the most sensitive parts of the body and that's easy to find out about. There's also established torture manuals out there, ref U.S. Army and CIA interrogation manuals. I'd vote to remove this post, because it has no answer. $\endgroup$ – kleer001 Sep 19 '19 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'm tempted to say this isn't worldbuilding. How does this relate to the systems or rules of a world? Is this a question about creature development? Because if it's a question about an individual's actions (which it really sounds like), then it's off-topic. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 19 '19 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ If you inflict too much pain, they will just black out and all that pain is wasted. I would say this question isn't really about worldbuilding. The way you describe the pain to your audience will have bigger impact than you telling them you stabbed them in the Fingertips to maximize the pain they will receive on purpose. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Sep 20 '19 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ @kleer001 it seems to me that the OP is generating a villain. Having the villain deeply tied to your world is a good strategy for making both truly memorable. I'd argue that it holds up as world-building. $\endgroup$ – HA Harvey Sep 20 '19 at 4:47
  • $\begingroup$ Root canal. That is all. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Sep 20 '19 at 17:39

When you get right down to it, pain is a sensation caused by stimulus to certain nerve endings in the body called Nociceptors. These are also used in the skin primarily to drive the sense of touch. But, they can certainly be stimulated to tell the body it's in pain. As such, the obvious answer to your question is to put the syringe into the body at a location where these receptors are at their highest density.

As it turns out, there are two places that are very high in concentration of these kinds of receptors; the fingertips and the lips. Arguably this should be obvious as these are the areas where sensitivity can count in terms of exploring one's environment or deciding whether to really eat that thing you're putting in your mouth. The tongue also has a high number of nerves to it as I understand it, but they are primarily tied up with the sense of taste although for sheer psychological discomfort alone it becomes a candidate, but I digress.

Bottom line is that the fingertips or lips, according to my reading, are going to be the most sensitive areas into which you can stick a syringe and therefore the most painful.

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    $\begingroup$ The CIA is rather fond of genitals, which have quite a lot of nerve endings. $\endgroup$ – arp Sep 20 '19 at 3:27

There is something called a neuro-override reflex (NOR) that is exploited differently by martial combatants and torturers. Essentially, the brain (actually the spinal cord) is hard-wired to treat certain stimulus trauma as critical and it reacts in a predictable fashion on reflex based upon the level of priority the body places on that particular body locale to the survival of the whole.

Skipping the hand-to-hand applications of this principle, I'll go straight to pain. While the detail with which one feels pain IS determined by the number of recepters present . . . interesting things happen when NOR becomes involved. Essentially, certain critical areas cause the body to actually amplify the sensation of pain to encourage the person to escape the trauma ASAP. Among other things, this causes involuntary muscle spasms, mental regression to a raw, instinctual fight-or-flight mindset, and lots and lots of screaming.

Aside from the skin, one of the other locations that our body has pain receptors is along the surface of bones, because damage to almost any bone seriously degrades the body's ability to function and many bones are also doubling as armor to even more vital organs (skull, rib cage, spinal column). Your sadist could exploit this by using his heavy-gauge needle to strike and drag along bones before injecting (or just using needles to do this and leaving them in place to cause added pain whenever the subject struggles). The golden area is the sciatic nerve where it connects to the base of the spinal cord. Now, your torturer would know not to damage the cord itself, but that the sciatic nerve is capable of rendering a hardened spy into a gibbering vegetable with just a few minutes of sustained damage to the nerve. Small prods could be included in the interrogation and, when all information extraction was done . . . that is how to finish the job.


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