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Thinking About Sexual Fantasies Lessens Pain

sexual fantasies

New York Times Syndicate - December 30, 1999

I know that some of the visitors to HealthyPlace.com suffer from chronic pain. I thought this might be interesting.

Thinking about a favorite sexual fantasy may increase one's pain tolerance, according to new research.

Researchers led by Dr. Peter Staats, director of the division of pain medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, studied the effects of a positive emotional response on pain. Forty college students were asked to put one of their hands in ice water, keeping it there until they could no longer stand the pain.

The students were then randomly assigned to four groups. They were either told to think about a preferred sexual fantasy with their favorite partner, a non-preferred sexual fantasy, or a neutral fantasy, such as people walking. The fourth group was not given any specific instructions. All of the students then placed their hands in ice water for a second time. The researchers measured mood, worry and pain during both immersions.

The scientists found that the students in the preferred-sexual-fantasy group were able to keep their hands in the ice water over twice as long as those in the other groups (three minutes compared to a little over one minute).

"Whether patients think positive thoughts themselves or whether you say positive things to them, it will have an impact on their response to pain," Staats said.

The results of the study were presented at the 18th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society (www.ampainsoc.org), held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on October 23.


 


Because students in the preferred fantasy group were able to tolerate pain better than the non-preferred fantasy group, the researchers concluded that respecting patients' choice and preference while designing pain intervention programs may reduce pain.

"What this study points out is the power of emotion in treating patients," Staats said. Staats's father, Arthur, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a coauthor of the study, also performed research on the relationship between emotion and behavior in the past.

This new study supports the contention that if someone in pain is exposed to other causes of negative emotion, the pain will feel worse. Conversely, if pain is coupled with things that cause positive feelings, the pain will seem to be decreased.

"Before 1950, physicians used the power of suggestion as a major mode of treatment," Staats said. "Now we're so pressed for time that we don't always have a chance to really converse with patients, to listen to their fears and anxieties. The beside manner what is said to the patient is important."

(The Medical Tribune Web site is at http://medicaltribune.net/) c. 1999 Medical PressCorps News Service

next: Exercises to Rekindle Sexual Desire

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, December 16). Thinking About Sexual Fantasies Lessens Pain, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/sex/psychology-of-sex/sexual-fantasy-thoughts-lessen-pain

Last Updated: April 9, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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