Methods of inducing maximum levels of human suffering

So there I was, sitting in an improvised surgery room, in a garage, in the middle of nowhere. I can feel metal implements being plunged into my flesh, scraping the entire length of my shin bones in an effort to separate the tissue from the bone.

The lidocaine wasn’t working, exactly, and it hurt like hell.

The plan was to insert 12-inch tubes filled with a non-Newtonian foam armor into my shins, giving me the ability to absorb baseball bat blows with ease, or Thai kick the shit out of stuff that makes me angry, like mailboxes and pollution.

Why I did it is beyond the scope of this paper. The main point is that it was fucking painful. The whole time it was happening, I kept thinking, “This is the most pain I have ever experienced.” Yet, in my heart, I knew that others had experienced far more pain than this, and that this new personal pain record of mine was an insignificant milestone in the greater scheme of human suffering.

This, of course, forced me to further ponder the relative nature of pain in the human experience. I was experiencing a 10 on my personal pain scale, but compared to all human suffering like childbirth, crucifixion, torture, and so on, my pain was still only like an 8. Maybe a 7.25.

Times like these always get me thinking: “What is the most pain that a human can experience and still survive?”

Thankfully, I have solved this for you, and will present the details below.

Do with them what you will.

Some of you may have been hoping for a strange BDSM spin on this, but that is the stuff of other articles. Suffice to say, the protocol listed herein will make the most resilient masochists beg for death (in a no-longer-erotic kinda way). This protocol is an evolving one. If you feel that I have neglected to mention something to maximize pain, then please lend your wisdom in the comments below.

Also, this protocol takes an overall medical view of the shit-show. Some of my prescribed interventions may interfere with one another, or I may have overlooked something entirely. (For example, I’m unsure whether Na leakage compliments or interferes with other interventions in the protocol. If you read this and know, tell me.)


Subject is restrained to a rack or by other means, so that they cannot inflict self injury.

Platypus Venom. Sometimes when I want to scare myself, I think about the aberrant race of platypuses that stalk the night in search of prey. The back legs of these little monsters (well, the males anyway) have small burs that drip a horrific poison that can paralyze most little critters, yet is not fatal to humans.

This dynamic cocktail of proteins and peptides boasts some really weird properties, like nerve growth factors (we will return to these), and a special D amino acid, whose appearance in a mammal is just wild. Platypus venom causes hyperalgesia, a hypersensitivity to pain. An intravenous administration of the venom (and possibly an anticoagulant) should inflame nerves, making them very aware of the slightest disturbance. Every hair follicle subjected to a light breeze or movement will cause a neighboring nerve to groan in agony. Bubbles of air in the digestive tract will cripple you with nausea and discomfort.

The subject’s body is now primed to amplify all other pain we will be applying to it. The effects of the venom seem to recur days or months after exposure and not even morphine is capable of offering relief to the pain.

Poneratoxin. This is the main event. Enough poneratoxin (also known as PoTX, isolated from bullet ant venom) supplies 24 hours of excruciating, burning pain. This venom ranks as being the most painful on the Schmidt sting index. The toxin gets to work on sodium ion channels, messing with action potentials and rates of exchange. It’s difficult for me to imagine another substance that can compete with the poneratoxin’s ability to cause pain, with the possible exception of our next substance.

Irukandji jellyfish venom. Experiences of pain are completely subjective and hard to quantify and compare to one another. Trying to fairly quantify the pain induced by a sting is even trickier when we are unable to accurately measure potency and quantity delivered from a wild encounter. So comparing the pain caused by bullet ant venom versus a sting from the Irukandji jellyfish is difficult. Suffice to say that they both suck, and this protocol currently calls for both substances because they each introduce fun new symptoms to the equation.

According to the literature, irukandji jellyfish venom causes “excruciating muscle cramps in the arms and legs, severe pain in the back and kidneys, a burning sensation of the skin and face, headaches, nausea, restlessness, sweating, vomiting, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and psychological phenomena such as the feeling of impending doom.” Indeed, that “sense of impending doom” is often so bad that victims of the sting are frequently tied up to prevent them from committing suicide to escape the pain.

The poison is another modulator of sodium ion channels, basically the biological definition of pain. Too much venom will cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure and eventually cardiac arrest. Hopefully this will be offset by platypus venom, which causes a drop in blood pressure.

Now that we have created a hypersensitivity to pain and introduced the most painful neurotoxins currently known to man, you may be wondering how this could get worse. Not to worry. I got you.

Labyrinthitis. Labyrinthitis is an alarming condition that causes extreme vertigo. This infection of the inner ear can be caused by viral or bacterial means. Thus, the introduction of this intervention will need to start days in advance of the other ones. Those of us who have drank to much at some point in our lives may recall the sickening feeling of the room spinning while resisting the urge to vomit. Well, this infection causes a similar feeling, but vomiting will not bring relief from labyrinthitis. You simply lose all sense of balance and the world begins to spin endlessly. You are now wracked with pain, filled with dread and panic, spiraling and falling as though plummeting into an abyss.

Modulation of time-awareness. The use of hallucinogens, cannabinoids, and other drugs are often accompanied by a sensation that time itself has slowed down. The addition of a hallucinogen like mescaline should make every second feel like an eternity. Mescaline is not ideal though and should be replaced in this protocol when more is understood about time altering substances and new drugs become available which maximize the perception that time is moving at a snail’s pace. Mescaline, of course, has other useful properties here, as seen below.

Visions of terror. Hallucinations caused by the mescaline in these conditions should be truly horrific and terrifying. Sure, it can be a fun and pleasant experience (after the nausea) when surrounded by loving people and in a safe environment. But this protocol doesn’t feature any of those things. Furthermore, it will likely compound the likelihood and severity of long term psychological trauma brought about by the protocol. Perhaps the demons in this abyss might decide to say “hello.”

Internal bowel distress. Honestly, the mescaline could probably handle this for the first two hours, but another disruptor will be useful after that. This nausea and discomfort will be complemented by all of the other interventions in this protocol, but especially amplified by the platypus venom.

Manual stimulation. At this point it is unknown whether attempting to further hurt the participant would have any effect. I mean, when your entire body feels like it is on fire, your muscles are cramping, every nerve in the body is sending a pain signal, and you are being flung around in space for an eternity, surrounded by malevolent entities… does it matter if you stub your toe? Will the body register the additional pain of electrocution?

The protocol demands that we find out, but we just don’t know.