What would it feel like to get hurt if your nociceptors are disabled (but not other sensory receptors)? Please consider the following:

  1. What would it feel like to get stabbed?
  2. What would it feel like to get shot?
  3. What would it feel like to have a limb bent in an unnatural way?
  4. What would it feel like to receive a blunt impact?
  5. What would it feel like to get burnt? As your thermoreceptors are intact, would you still feel heat?
  6. What would it feel like to lose a limb?
  7. Would endorphins still be released upon injury?
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    $\begingroup$ You could easily find out yourself if you have access to some good pain medication ;) $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Jul 23 '20 at 19:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Please ask your doctor if it is safe to experiment with medications for research for fiction, and do not take medical advice from a website about fiction. $\endgroup$ – cowlinator Jul 23 '20 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ Why does this not appear to be about worldbuilding? The answers of this question could be applied to worldbuilding in several ways. There might be an entire race without nociceptors. There might be a person without them. There might be a magic spell that turns them off, or nanobots which do the same. The question seems pretty specific to me. $\endgroup$ – Richard Smith Jul 24 '20 at 21:42

It would feel how it feels anyway except not accompanied by pain

If you punch yourself increasingly hard to the point where it is not yet painful, that would be the sensation felt by someone with no pain receptors. Try it!

The same is true for 1 - 6, except that major injuries would cause faintness and shock due to sudden blood loss.

The question about endorphins is not concerned with immediate perception. I suggest you submit this as a separate question with a hard-science tag.


It depends on the cause...

You can find all sorts of info all over the interwebs on sensory nerves. I could point you to a few, but so could a number of folks on this site. In a nutshell, nociception is different from pressure sensation, and in the absence of the former you'll probably mostly get input from the latter.

...but in my experience, not much

I've worked with a couple of kids (now late teens to early 20s) who have Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy. Their case was particularly extreme and as far as I know, they've never felt any pain. Trust me when I say it's not a condition you want. I'm unsure whether this is a complication of their condition or their being adventurous, rowdy boys, but they were particularly susceptible to infection.

I've known them since they were 6 and 8 (respectively) through an overnight camp for children with physical disabilities. In general, we were trained on pretty much every camper's disabilities, which ranged from "missing a few fingers" to "can't intentionally move anything except their eyes". Some folks would come ten years running and were almost as familiar with kids' capabilities as their parents. Counselors were instructed to treat these two as if they were made of glass - minimal physical play, they had to wear gloves + long sleeves/pants at all times, head-to-toe skin checks by leadership and nurses every evening.

1, 2, and 5: Never came up

3: Proprioception and muscle/tendon stretch sensors kept him in the loop. It didn't hurt, but he could tell when something wasn't bending in the right way

4: I heard the younger one say "ow" a few times over the years after an impact - not because it hurt, but because he knew it should hurt. My hunch is that (as above) he could feel the pressure of bumping his knee / head / whatever, though he may have been going off of sound.

6: Every year, a little bit less of them would return. Their fingers might be a joint shorter one year, both thumbs lost another. The eldest was missing a leg one year, which wasn't a huge surprise because the previous year his knee had been double or triple its normal size and he had been confined to a power scooter. He didn't talk a lot about the surgical removal, but he definitely felt its loss psychosomatically

7: Based on my experience re: #4, my guess in his case is no. He didn't become more excited or boisterous, not just because that was hardly possible. In general, this answer again depends on the cause


This is a real condition. Search for a guy named Steve Pete.

The upshot is, it’s not good. You can really hurt yourself and not even know it. That’s pretty much the answer to every question you asked.


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