forum I know how to write torture/pain really, really well... so....
Started by @Discombra
tune

people_alt 75 followers

@Discombra

I have an alarming amount of knowledge in various torture devices, psychological damage, and pain. Some from books/history/websites and such, some from personal/familial experiences. I know a fair share of how much the human body can handle before it collapses.

If anyone needs help writing pain and/or torture, I'm willing to help; Whether that help is looking over your writing, or simply providing examples/results of things.


(This is probably one of the weirder threads, and I'm not quite sure this is the right forum, but idk)


EDIT 18/04/20

I mention a pain tolerance a lot, but I don't really elaborate what it means. So, here's my pain tolerance reference.

Little to no: This is more or less just describing kids between 6-9. Young enough to understand pain, but old enough to not just power through it. Like 4 year olds. I've seen one faceplant straight onto tile floor and get up giggling. Bawling when they scrape a knee, crying over a paper cut; This is the most theatrical version of pain tolerance.

Weak: Swears and might tear up at a paper cut. Nearly crippled by stubbing a toe. Cries when stung by a wasp. Probably never broke a bone in their life, but would bawl if they did.

Average: Cringes at a paper cut. Swears when they stub their toe. Tears up at a wasp sting. This is your average person who's had normal experiences. Has probably broken a finger or toe before, maybe crying or cringing at the pain.

Strong: Doesn't really register paper cuts. Stubbing a toe is more or less an inconvenience to them. A wasp sting probably makes them grind their teeth or swear. If they broke a bone, they're more likely to cringe and tear up a little than full out cry. Basically just someone who can brush off most pain, but serious injuries will take them down.

Insane: This is the most extreme version of pain tolerance. Has 3 hernias but refuses to get them removed because it will restrict them. Has jumped off a 2 story roof because someone moved the ladder. Shot a nail through their thumb and was mostly amused by it. Was tazed and it did literally nothing to them. I'm more or less describing someone I know. He's had all of this happen to him.

@LemonGirl

Oh boy, here's where I sound like a psychopath… It's only meant to advance the plot, I swear!

Alrighty, so, theoretically, how long do you think a person would take to pass out after being burned repeatedly by a hot poker? Mostly centered around his torso, but a few burns on his arms and neck?

And which way, in your opinion, would be the most efficient method of portraying the pain he's in?

@Discombra

Oh boy, here's where I sound like a psychopath… It's only meant to advance the plot, I swear!

Alrighty, so, theoretically, how long do you think a person would take to pass out after being burned repeatedly by a hot poker? Mostly centered around his torso, but a few burns on his arms and neck?

And which way, in your opinion, would be the most efficient method of portraying the pain he's in?

Depends. There are many factors to consider. First thing is their pain tolerance. If the worst pain he's ever had was stubbing his toe, chances are he won't be able to keep up for very long.

Second will depend on your character's body. Skinny/little muscle will feel more painful, but more fat/muscle will absorb the heat a little more (think the difference between burning your scalp/ear with a curling iron to grabbing a pot coming out of the oven.) It tends to be that the bigger you are, the more your body can take before you begin to shut down.

Third factor is their physical state. How much sleep they've had, what they were doing before getting tortured, their diet, etc. Adrenaline is a large part of this factor. High adrenaline, they'll be able to push through for a long while, little to no adrenaline and they will be out before the poker gets close to their skin. Similarly, a character that's been eating low calories/low energy/low protein food, their body will

Finally, age. As horrible as it is to even consider, I'm going to address it anyway. Child characters dealing with burning/fire are not going to last long, if fear doesn't get them first. Teens will depend heavily on their body type, and their motivation. If the teen is being tortured for information, they will likely stay up for a while out of sheer stubbornness, but if it's pain for pain's sake, they will likely fall quicker, since they have nothing to fight for. Adults don't have an age factor, in honesty, and mostly depend on the other three. Elderly, it's difficult to say. Especially with burning. I can't help much here, but hopefully you don't plan on torturing the elderly. I mean in your writing.

Ultimately, it's your choice on how much your character can stand. If you need the character awake longer for plot reasons, then let them stay awake. If you need them out like a light quickly, make it happen.


Portraying burning can be fun difficult, depending on what you are comfortable writing. The most important thing to remember is that we (the reader) already know that it's hot. Comparing the burns to other hot things won't do much. You can compare once, maybe twice for longer scenes, but too much will make your writing weaker.

Describe what's happening to what the poker touches. Is the character clothed? Then have your torturer hold the poker against his shirt/jacket/whatever for a few minutes; Describe the way the fabric tears and curls away, how the character can feel the the poker just millimeters away from their skin.

Is the poker sharp? Does it dig into the skin, and burn from the inside? Or is it blunt, and digs into someone? Is it hot enough to cauterize any cuts it makes?

Other effective descriptions I personally like is feeling your skin grow dry/brittle, or feeling each layer of skin burn; burning away hairs is always fun, and you can get creative with that one. Eyebrows, eyelashes (this one is also fun if you want to describe how dry their eyes are and/or how it hurts to blink and/or how they can't cry), armpit hair (under most joints tend to be very sensitive to heat: armpit, back of your knees, the undersides of your toes, etc.)

Regarding efficiency in particular, you don't want to overdo the description. Not only does it chase away readers, it also loses effectiveness. Personally, I find that multiple short descriptions in between dialogue/thoughts/action tends to be easier.

Here I've written 2 examples, using the same base dialogue/actions, but using 2 different methods to portray pain.


"I'm not telling you anything!" He cried out, his body attempting to curl away from the heat. The poker pushed into his abs, burning away each layer of skin.

I need to get out of this He thought, panting. But how?

"We have ways of making you talk." As the metal began falling towards his hips, his attacker smirked, before passing the poker to one of his colleagues.

Motherfucker! The poker was jabbed in between his ribs. He could feel the metal clanging between the bones, the pain echoing through his body each clang multiplying the horrid heat.

"Confess, and maybe we'll let you live!" One of his captors said, chuckling. [Character] groaned as the iron began prodding his neck. He gathered the horrible, metallic pain and spat on the first man's shoes.

"Only time I'll confess is at the Pearly Gates." [Character] rasped. His captors scowled.

"We'll see about that."

The air hung heavy with smoke and screams.


"I'm not telling you anything!" He cried out. Though [Character] was soaked with sweat, his skin was dry and brittle.

I need to get out of this He thought, grinding his teeth as each layer of skin shriveled away. But how?

"We have ways of making you talk." His attacker smirked, passing the poker to one of his colleagues. The iron was pressed against the sole of his foot

Motherfucker! Each flare of pain was accompanied by the scent of flesh.

"Confess, and maybe we'll let you live!" One of his captors said, chuckling.

"Only time I'll confess is at the Pearly Gates." [Character] rasped, his throat dry and cracking. His captors scowled.

"We'll see about that." His muscles broiled as the iron dug into his thighs

The smell of burnt flesh deepened as the shrieks grew louder.


^^^ Admittedly, not my best work, but it served its purpose. Both examples are efficient, but they read differently from each other.

The first example had fewer mentions of torture, but were longer. This gave a more in depth view of the pain and, depending how you write it, can make the pain echo inside you. And cool as that is, it can drive readers away.

The second example mentioned torture a lot more frequently, but were shorter. This gives a reader a sort of adrenaline rush while reading, making the stakes seem higher; and the action is happening right in front of them.


Hope this helps!

@Icefire

Question: how many lashes with a whip could a person withstand before they bled out or passed out? How could that change if there was magic/technology involved that either stemmed the blood loss and/or kept the person from passing out?

@SpookyScarySnoteleks group

Okay, this might seem a little excessive, but I like putting my characters through hell
Say a character has been injured, as in multiple cuts/lashes. The character isn't exactly in danger of bleeding out. In that condition, how long would they survive(and what would be the effects) in about 10-12 degree(F) cold with snow and wind at about 15-20 mph?

@Oakiin

Talk to me about neurotoxins that drive you insane with the pain as they melt your brain and hijack it for murder. What might the crazy person do to relieve the pain? This toxin tricks your brain into thinking it's being attacked from the outside.
Also, if the experience were to be described by a knowledgeable third person for the intents of making someone angry, what's the most painful horrific method someone could describe it?

Hopefully this made sense lol

@Discombra

Question: how many lashes with a whip could a person withstand before they bled out or passed out? How could that change if there was magic/technology involved that either stemmed the blood loss and/or kept the person from passing out?

– @Icefire_married_two_people


There are a few things to consider.

First off, your main issue is going to be blood loss. In Ancient Greece, people often died before the lashes stop (Although, the whips used back then often had bone or rock chunks at the end, for maximum pain. This led to chunks of skin tearing off and supposedly a loss of an eye.) So if you decide to use magic/technology at all, something to stem blood loss would be key.

Where is the whip hitting? Ignoring blood loss, the other danger of lashes was organ damage. Kind of similar to Harry Houdini's death, in a way; Minor external damage can result in organ failure/malfunction. With this in mind, the back is the safest location (as safe as lashes can be) just for the fact that there are fewer organs that can be damaged.

As for magic/technology, it's your rules. I know that isn't really an answer, but its honestly up to you. If you make it stem the blood loss, your main worries are going to be organ damage. If you want any wounds to be instantly cauterized with every whip, awesome!


Ultimately, it's your story. If you want them to pass out in 5 minutes, just do it. If you need them awake for 2 hours, just do it.

also curse you for making me google how does it feel like to be whipped.

@Discombra

Okay, this might seem a little excessive, but I like putting my characters through hell
Say a character has been injured, as in multiple cuts/lashes. The character isn't exactly in danger of bleeding out. In that condition, how long would they survive(and what would be the effects) in about 10-12 degree(F) cold with snow and wind at about 15-20 mph?

– @Ash-is-tired-of-the-world-rn


This is incredibly specific. I'm not sure whether to applaud you for having that much detail in your story, or be concerned for what you do for fun.

From what you've given me, your deciding factors are going to be the person, the clothing, and the weather.

A person with a lot of cuts can mean different things. I'm assuming you mean the kind of cuts left by a whip, which tend to be large, somewhat deep, and long. Assuming the person has a high pain tolerance, they most likely won't be hindered much by the injuries (if you make the whip not hit organs.) Average tolerance, they will mostly be slowed down. Probably take more breaks. Heavy breathing. Besides pain tolerance will be what weather your victim is used to. A Floridian will have a much worse time getting through snow and wind than an Albertan or Alaskan.

Clothing is important for how warm/agile your victim will be. Given your temperature, I'm going to assume there's a decent amount of snow, no more than a metre (40 inches). I'm also assuming they won't be walking on cleared sidewalks, most likely offroad. The worst things (if you ignore the obvious bad choices) for them to be wearing are jeans, sneakers, yoga pants, sweatshirt, uggs, and/or tank tops. Footwear is important no matter how used to the cold you may be. Sneakers and uggs get wet fast. The moment they get snow in them/on top of them, your feet are going to freeze. Jeans are the biggest no no. Remember a few years back when freezing your jeans outside and having standing pants in your yard was a thing? That's why. Wet/damp jeans = Ice pants. A sweatshirt will not be enough on its own, or as your outer layer.

Finally, weather. This is gonna vary by region. You're asking about a temperature that's -12 to -14 Celcius, discounting wind chill. Which, all things considered, isn't that cold (pardon my Canadian-ness.) Your wind speed isn't overly strong, but also not weak, so it might knock your temperature down by a few degrees. And that's if I'm assuming you're talking about regular wind and not an inukshuk. Clear skies will also knock your temperature down.

As for how long they'd survive considering all the above, I can't really say for sure. I am going to leave a link of how long it takes for frostbite and hypothermia to take place, which takes into account wind chill.

Hope this helps!

@Discombra

Talk to me about neurotoxins that drive you insane with the pain as they melt your brain and hijack it for murder. What might the crazy person do to relieve the pain? This toxin tricks your brain into thinking it's being attacked from the outside.
Also, if the experience were to be described by a knowledgeable third person for the intents of making someone angry, what's the most painful horrific method someone could describe it?

Hopefully this made sense lol

– @KHS-SunGod-is-on-hiatus-until-the-1st


This one is fun to think about.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what neurotoxins would/could do to the body, or how to relieve the pain.

So I had to rely on the internet. Which didn't help.

Historically, there's been one neurotoxin (Tetrodotoxin) used in torture, but it has a paralyzing effect. There's a drug called Scopolamine (aka the Zombie Drug (I'm not even kidding)) that makes you incapable of resisting orders (Lab tests do not report this effect, but the drugs from both street and lab are unlikely to be the same, so…) There's also a bacteria known as Toxoplasma Gondii, but this one doesn't really work on humans (only rats showed any symptoms of the bacteria.) It also didn't really do anything you described, just made the rats slower and hang out around cats. So for actual neurotoxin, I have no idea what the effects would be on the individual.

However, your description of your neurotoxin sounds really REALLY similar to the fictional disease Pararibulitis, from the show "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." I'm going to leave a link to what it looks/feels like on the show, so you'll be able to see what it might look/feel like.

The mind-controlling part is a bit tricky. What you describe sounds more like a computer hacking into another than any "mind-control" we have in real life. (Indoctrination, Hypnotism, and Coercion. And indoctrination is the only one that could work how you describe. Hypnotism is limited by the person's morals. Coercion is basically just Pavlov's dog. Indoctrination is usually cult recruitment.)


The most painful, in my opinion, would be through a phone call:

Protagonist gets a call from an unknown number. They answer and hear silence for a few minutes. Right before they hang up, your victim screams in pain. Antagonist asks the victim to say hi to protagonist. The victim describes what they're feeling ("They're burning me alive!" etc.) The victim blubbers for a few minutes, and just plain silence. Antagonist asks victim if they have something else to say. This is your choice, but I'm a fan of something that shows the shift in personality/goals.

Face to face would be less effective unless you want to highlight the mind control. A letter wouldn't do too much, in all honesty, but it depends on how you write it.

Hope this helps!

@Icefire

Question: how many lashes with a whip could a person withstand before they bled out or passed out? How could that change if there was magic/technology involved that either stemmed the blood loss and/or kept the person from passing out?

– @Icefire_married_two_people


There are a few things to consider.

First off, your main issue is going to be blood loss. In Ancient Greece, people often died before the lashes stop (Although, the whips used back then often had bone or rock chunks at the end, for maximum pain. This led to chunks of skin tearing off and supposedly a loss of an eye.) So if you decide to use magic/technology at all, something to stem blood loss would be key.

Where is the whip hitting? Ignoring blood loss, the other danger of lashes was organ damage. Kind of similar to Harry Houdini's death, in a way; Minor external damage can result in organ failure/malfunction. With this in mind, the back is the safest location (as safe as lashes can be) just for the fact that there are fewer organs that can be damaged.

As for magic/technology, it's your rules. I know that isn't really an answer, but its honestly up to you. If you make it stem the blood loss, your main worries are going to be organ damage. If you want any wounds to be instantly cauterized with every whip, awesome!


Ultimately, it's your story. If you want them to pass out in 5 minutes, just do it. If you need them awake for 2 hours, just do it.

also curse you for making me google how does it feel like to be whipped.

Ahh thank you!! This was actually pretty helpful, thank you so much!

oof sorry

@Oakiin

Talk to me about neurotoxins that drive you insane with the pain as they melt your brain and hijack it for murder. What might the crazy person do to relieve the pain? This toxin tricks your brain into thinking it's being attacked from the outside.
Also, if the experience were to be described by a knowledgeable third person for the intents of making someone angry, what's the most painful horrific method someone could describe it?

Hopefully this made sense lol

– @KHS-SunGod-is-on-hiatus-until-the-1st


This one is fun to think about.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what neurotoxins would/could do to the body, or how to relieve the pain.

So I had to rely on the internet. Which didn't help.

Historically, there's been one neurotoxin (Tetrodotoxin) used in torture, but it has a paralyzing effect. There's a drug called Scopolamine (aka the Zombie Drug (I'm not even kidding)) that makes you incapable of resisting orders (Lab tests do not report this effect, but the drugs from both street and lab are unlikely to be the same, so…) There's also a bacteria known as Toxoplasma Gondii, but this one doesn't really work on humans (only rats showed any symptoms of the bacteria.) It also didn't really do anything you described, just made the rats slower and hang out around cats. So for actual neurotoxin, I have no idea what the effects would be on the individual.

However, your description of your neurotoxin sounds really REALLY similar to the fictional disease Pararibulitis, from the show "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." I'm going to leave a link to what it looks/feels like on the show, so you'll be able to see what it might look/feel like.

The mind-controlling part is a bit tricky. What you describe sounds more like a computer hacking into another than any "mind-control" we have in real life. (Indoctrination, Hypnotism, and Coercion. And indoctrination is the only one that could work how you describe. Hypnotism is limited by the person's morals. Coercion is basically just Pavlov's dog. Indoctrination is usually cult recruitment.)


The most painful, in my opinion, would be through a phone call:

Protagonist gets a call from an unknown number. They answer and hear silence for a few minutes. Right before they hang up, your victim screams in pain. Antagonist asks the victim to say hi to protagonist. The victim describes what they're feeling ("They're burning me alive!" etc.) The victim blubbers for a few minutes, and just plain silence. Antagonist asks victim if they have something else to say. This is your choice, but I'm a fan of something that shows the shift in personality/goals.

Face to face would be less effective unless you want to highlight the mind control. A letter wouldn't do too much, in all honesty, but it depends on how you write it.

Hope this helps!

Ahh, thank-you so much! I'll keep all this in mind, I appreciate your research :D

@Fangirl616 group

If you don't mind, I have a question about the pain tolerance thing.

My MC has been tortured and physically torn apart for the sake of 'science' ever since they were a baby. I think they'd be at the insane level now (age 17, almost 18), but how would they react to high levels of pain? I know that he could shrug off a broken bone (he also has a medium-strength healing factor), but how would someone like that react to bullet wounds?

Sorry if this isn't something you can answer, I know it's somewhat outside what you were offering. Feel free to ignore if you can't.

@Discombra

If you don't mind, I have a question about the pain tolerance thing.

My MC has been tortured and physically torn apart for the sake of 'science' ever since they were a baby. I think they'd be at the insane level now (age 17, almost 18), but how would they react to high levels of pain? I know that he could shrug off a broken bone (he also has a medium-strength healing factor), but how would someone like that react to bullet wounds?

Sorry if this isn't something you can answer, I know it's somewhat outside what you were offering. Feel free to ignore if you can't.

It's no problem at all. This is one of the easier questions for me to answer (mostly cuz I know a guy.)

Where the bullet hit will change the level of hurt. Getting shot in the thigh or bicep would be a lot less painful than say, a shot in the knee or through the gut. The kind of bullet is also good to note. This site has some good viewpoints on how being shot feels.

From what I've discussed with the guy, we're pretty sure that most shots from low caliber bullets would be unlikely to do much more than sting, assuming they don't hit something vital. Bullets that are designed to break into shrapnel would be a bitch. Bullets that go through would also hurt a lot. We agreed that the result of being shot would most likely powering through it, but struggling to handle the pain.

Hope this helps!

@Fangirl616 group

If you don't mind, I have a question about the pain tolerance thing.

My MC has been tortured and physically torn apart for the sake of 'science' ever since they were a baby. I think they'd be at the insane level now (age 17, almost 18), but how would they react to high levels of pain? I know that he could shrug off a broken bone (he also has a medium-strength healing factor), but how would someone like that react to bullet wounds?

Sorry if this isn't something you can answer, I know it's somewhat outside what you were offering. Feel free to ignore if you can't.

It's no problem at all. This is one of the easier questions for me to answer (mostly cuz I know a guy.)

Where the bullet hit will change the level of hurt. Getting shot in the thigh or bicep would be a lot less painful than say, a shot in the knee or through the gut. The kind of bullet is also good to note. This site has some good viewpoints on how being shot feels.

From what I've discussed with the guy, we're pretty sure that most shots from low caliber bullets would be unlikely to do much more than sting, assuming they don't hit something vital. Bullets that are designed to break into shrapnel would be a bitch. Bullets that go through would also hurt a lot. We agreed that the result of being shot would most likely powering through it, but struggling to handle the pain.

Hope this helps!

Thank you, this is really helpful! I really apperciate it!

Deleted user

Hey there! Soooo….I have a question. How would a 12 year old deal with being bitten on her lower leg by a California Kingsnake? She was raised in a clean, tidy place that didn't allow pets, so she's never been bitten or scratched by an animal of any kind.

@-ellia-cant-think-of-a-username- group

Ooo I have something too if you don't mind. What should someone do if they are shot in the gut area, but can't/won't get medical help? How would much worse would the pain get if left untreated? I have ideas, but just want to be sure. Any info you have would be great :)

Deleted user

And out of your categories of people who tolerate pain…She's weak.

@vibe

just a couple questions, if you have the time:

-what methods can be used to torture someone without leaving too many scars? bruises would be fair game
-how do you think psychological repercussions of torture would manifest in a thirty-year-old male with little to no body fat? note that this male is known to be very closed off with his emotions (downright getting agressive with people who prod) and expected to stay strong because of his position in leadership. also note that he's used to pain and generally grevious injuries, although he's never been tortured, per se, before now. (in terms of your pain tolerance scale, his would be 'strong')
-how far do you think someone could travel after having sustained a concussion? via car
-would earlier mentioned male be able to remain conscious after having his collarbone broken? how long do you suppose?

for anyone wondering, he'll be fineee… probably. he's got a healer waiting for him, at least.

@Discombra

Hey there! Soooo….I have a question. How would a 12 year old deal with being bitten on her lower leg by a California Kingsnake? She was raised in a clean, tidy place that didn't allow pets, so she's never been bitten or scratched by an animal of any kind.

Hmmm.

Well, there would definitely be crying, either from shock, or fear (fear that the snake is venomous.) This species is known for being calm, only ever attacking if it believes itself to be in danger. So an attack could very well startle the girl if she was familiar with the snake.

As for the bite itself, apparently their teeth are sharp enough it wouldn't "hurt more than a mosquito bite would because they aren’t venomous and they do not have big teeth." Another source says that snake bites don't tend to hurt much at all. Of course, that applies mostly to non-venomous snakes

So, in my opinion, the 12 year old would likely end up crying or screaming, but not from pain. The shock factor of being bitten by a snake, especially if she isn't familiar with the animal, would be the biggest thing here.


As always, it's your story, so if you need a bigger reaction, make one. If you do want to include venom in some way, you might have to change the species of snake.