quote: I've even considered aliens or virtual reality.
When i wrecked my knee i was an infinity of miles away from picturing a virtual reality. I think my nerves are really real. Though i never asserted the idea was ridiculous...well i won't get Wachowskian here.
As for the "martians" or any other kind of extraterrestrial life having something to do with our existence, let's not be closed. Actually it would be fun to see all the hardcore (i mean the ignorant lecturing ones) creationists face when they see there is not an unprovable mighty creator but a way of explaining we are even smaller and unimportant than we thought.
The pain you are refering to is generally called "phantom pain".
Phantom pain sensations are described as perceptions that an individual experiences relating to a limb or an organ that is not physically part of the body. Limb loss is a result of either removal by amputation or congenital limb deficiency (Glummarra et al, 2007). However, phantom limb sensations can also occur following nerve avulsion or spinal cord injury. Sensations are recorded most frequently following the amputation of an arm or a leg, but may also occur following the removal of a breast or an internal organ. Phantom limb pain is the feeling of pain in an absent limb or a portion of a limb. The pain sensation varies from individual to individual.
Phantom limb sensation is the term given to any sensory phenomenon (except pain) which is felt at an absent limb or a portion of the limb. It has been known that at least 80% of amputees experience phantom sensations at some time of their lives. There are various types of sensations that may be felt:
Sensations related to the phantom limb's posture, length and volume e.g. feeling that the phantom limb is behaving just like a normal limb like sitting with the knee bent or feeling that the phantom limb is as heavy as the other limb. Sometimes, an amputee will experience a sensation called telescoping. This is the feeling that the phantom limb is gradually shortening over time. Sensations of movement (e.g. feeling that the phantom foot is moving). Sensations of touch, temperature, pressure and itchiness. Many amputees report of feeling heat, tingling and itchy. The term “phantom limb” was first coined by American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell in 1871 (Halligan, 2002). Mitchell described that “thousands of spirit limbs were haunting as many good soldiers, every now and then tormenting them” (Bittar et al, 2005). However, in 1551, French military surgeon Ambroise Paré recorded the first documentation of phantom limb pain when he reported that, “For the patients, long after the amputation is made, say that they still feel pain in the amputated part” (Bittar et al, 2005).
The mirror box therapy:
Mirror box therapy allows for illusions of movement and touch in a phantom limb by inducing somatosensory and motor pathway coupling between the phantom and real limb (Glummarra et al, 2007). Many patients experience pain as a result of a clenched phantom limb, and because phantom limbs are not under voluntary control, unclenching becomes impossible (Ramachandran and Rogers-Ramachandran, 1996). The theory behind the mirror box treatment is that the brain has become accustomed to the fact that a phantom limb is paralyzed because there is no feedback from the phantom back to the brain to inform it otherwise. Ramachandran and Rogers-Ramachandran believed that if the brain received visual feedback that the limb had moved, then the phantom limb would become unparalyzed (Ramachandran and Rogers-Ramachandran, 1996).
To create the visual feedback, mirror boxes are constructed to create an illusion of a second limb. The mirror box is constructed so that it has a vertical mirror placed in the center, and the lid remains off. The intact limb is placed on one side of the mirror, and in the patient’s sight, while the amputated limb is placed on the other side, out of sight. The patient sees an intact second limb through the mirror and sends motor commands to both limbs to make symmetric movements. The movement gives the brain positive feedback that the phantom has moved, and it becomes unparalyzed (Ramachandran and Rogers-Ramachandran, 1996).
In a study of ten patients with upper phantom limb paralysis, nine patients were able to move the phantom limb, and eight of the patients able to move the phantom limb had their pain alleviated (Ramachandran and Rogers-Ramachandran, 1996). Since Ramachandran and Ramachandran’s pioneer study, there have been multiple additional studies to support the mirror box findings for patients with upper limb phantom pain. MacLachlan, McDonald, and Walcoch presented the first case of mirror box treatment for lower limb phantoms in 2004. The patient, Alan, experienced a painful crossing of his toes in the morning, and the pain worsened as the day progressed. After three weeks of mirror box treatment twice a day, Alan no longer felt any painful sensations from crossed toes (MacLachlan, McDonald, and Walcoch, 2004).
If there are means for treatment, it suggests it's not completely beyond us, or at least we can legitimately think that we will fully understand the phenomenon one day, which doesn't seem to be the fully the case yet.
quote:Image what the technology will be like in another 1000 years. There are solar systems that are far older than ours and so if there is life in other solar systems, the technology to completely fool us could easily exist.
Once again i did not say virtual reality was too fanciful an idea to be taken in consideration. Then it may mean that in the program where we wander nerves were designed in order to make us feel pain or pleasure, and phantom pain, to stay in the "programming" analogy, would be some sort of bug. As i said let's not be closed. But to this day, nothing has indicated we were part of such a thing, and i still maintain my nerves are simply real, for what my conception of reality is worth. When i was a kid i was fascinated by the fakirs, or any people who could master their body to the point where they could walk on burning rocks, or put a thick needle through their arm or mouth, etc. There seems to be some ways to tame the pain, but at some scale. If one of these people ever gets one of his/her leg cut off, he/she will feel what we call pain.
With the means we possess today on our planet, it's of course not forbidden to image greater scales of technological or physical evolution, but hospitals can't deal with imaging a vicious "designer", letting us believe we feel pain, whether this designer is a baby extraterrestrial playing with his video game or a mighty bearded man in a white robe.