I have a character that makes everything to test improvements for human life (from ingesting chemical substances to resisting to physical trauma) - by using his own body as subject.

Limb replacement, facial reconstruction, physical and psychological trauma are some examples.

Note: I'm considering that all the procedures to his body don't cause instant death or comas - despite how much it hurts or disgusts.

My question is: there's a limit for how much his body can take before he dies or pass out?


closed as off-topic by AndreiROM, type_outcast, Hohmannfan, TrEs-2b, JDługosz Oct 7 '16 at 17:55

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  • $\begingroup$ The answer will be: It depends, on type of trauma, the person itself, and so forth... $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Oct 7 '16 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T you can take an average human for example. $\endgroup$ – Radec Oct 7 '16 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ I'd do research on this, but "human torture limits" doesn't seem like something I should search for at work... $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Oct 7 '16 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ It depends, but generally, not that much. Some of the procedures you describe (limb replacement, etc.) have super traumatic consequences for the body, and possibly result in death if the body rejects the tissue, or as a result of a weakened immune system (from the drugs taken to accept the tissue). Combining this with multiple procedures in just a few short years is nothing short of suicidal. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Oct 7 '16 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ Voting to Close as Primarily Opinion Based, as realistically, no one can answer this question, although many people may try to guess. OP, please read up on WB SE Risk Factors and maybe reframe your questions, giving us more details about the situation. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Oct 7 '16 at 13:37

There is absolutely a limit, though that limit varies from individual to individual widely. The most classic example of this variance is women and childbirth. It's commonly said that a man couldn't undertake childbirth without passing out.

The point where this happens is really part of our genetic history. If you think about it, we can ask the question "why would we pass out from trauma." Typically being conscious is better than not being conscious. However, we note that there are situations where we may make short-term rash decisions which have long term implications (like opening wounds and bleeding to death). If our genetic heritage doesn't trust us with one of these decisions, it will engage whatever mechanisms are involved to make us pass out.

The effect of this can be fatal if or genetic heritage was wrong. I do believe this is why, in trauma situations, we tell the individual to stay awake. In many such situations, the conscious mind is doing a better job of maintaining homeostasis than our backup unconscious approaches will. However, once you're in the operating room, and a black man is about to stab you with a knife, they give you drugs to put you unconscious so that you don't resist (the knife is a scalpel, and black people can be surgeons too -- especially when it adds to the deceptive shock value of my word choice! Remember, while you may be conscious at that point, you're not very conscious. The scene you think you see may be as extreme as my racial stereotype! ).

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    $\begingroup$ Meta-reviews of pain studies indicate that for most pain sources, women report more pain than men. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Oct 7 '16 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ The staying awake thing is a myth (bbc.com/future/story/…). The reason it's good to stay awake is that it lets you keep reacting to the situation (ie, if you vomit, you can react and turn over instead of breathing it in and drowning), and so you can provide info to the people treating you (ie, are you dosing off cuz you hit your head, cuz you drank poison, etc.) Knowing what caused your injury helps get the right treatment. But there's generally no physical benefit to staying awake. $\endgroup$ – elstevenson Oct 7 '16 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @elstevenson Thanks for the link. In my head, I bundle a lot of those reactions into what I would call homeostasis, because they're helping keep the body alive, but the distinction you bring up makes sense. (However, my solution to concussions remains unchanged: I intend not to get one!) $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 7 '16 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ Surgery, up to and including limb amputations, was done before the development of effective anesthetics. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 8 '16 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ I'll be honest with you. Kidney stones are more painful than childbirth. $\endgroup$ – forest Sep 22 '18 at 2:31

Michael Jackson had quite a lot of cosmetic surgery, done by the top professionals no doubt. It's at least one actual case study which shows concrete limits to the amount of surgery which can be performed. None of it seemed life threatening, although the psychological impact was no doubt quite large.


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