Why can we imagine a bunny in our head, but we can’t choose to hallucinate it unless we use drugs ?


Similar question: why can I bend my fingers on command, but if my finger is hurt (lets say from smashing it) I cant just think “ok, i get it, its hurt. Stop hurting now”

In: Biology

Because for the most part, we don’t really control our brain. The brains job in the body is to send signals through the nerves to dictate what everything is doing, this includes concious and unconscious actions. We can imagine a bunny because it is part of our memories, an unconscious part of us. You can’t stop your body sensing pain because the signal the brain is sending is telling the body there is an injury that needs paying attention to. As for the drugs allowing us to hallucinate what isn’t there, that’s because it alters the signals we receive and cause them to act in ways we normally don’t, like seeing a bunny that isn’t actually there.

Our brain has part dedicated to telling the different between fantasy and reality. Hallucinations happen when that doesn’t work for whatever reason. It is vital to your survival, especially in the old hunter gatherer days, that you know the difference between a real bunny that you can catch and eat, and an imaginary one that will cause you to starve while wasting time trying to catch it.

Similarly pain is meant to warn us of danger or injury so we can stop doing the thing that is hurting us. It is meant to be something we don’t like, in order to force us to do something. If we could just stop hurting, we would–and then proceed to hurt ourselves anyway.

And I can prove that is the case. One of the main symptoms of leprosy is the inability to feel pain. People with this disease with mangle and burn themselves, get infections from dirty cuts they didn’t know they had and so forth. Even lose fingers when rats chew them off while they are sleeping. Someone invented a device to solve this. Instead of pain, it makes an annoying sound so they know they are hurting themselves. It didn’t work. The patients just turned it off and went about hurting themselves anyway.

So yeah, it’s actually really important that we can’t just decide to stop feeling pain.