How Adrenaline Affects the Perception of Pain

I hope this isn’t a silly question… Is it possible to be stabbed and not notice it immediately? It doesn’t matter if it’s in an extreme condition or not.

Yeah, it happens. Same thing with getting shot or other minor injuries. An adrenaline rush dulls your ability to feel pain, and it’s frighteningly easy for someone to suffer mortal injuries during a fight and not realize it.

This is why you see characters depicted checking themselves for wounds. This is sometimes played for laughs, but it is a practical behavior. If you’ve just escaped from someone attacking you with a knife, (or getting shot at), you need to know if you have an injury you’re not aware of.

This also happens with minor cuts or bruises. Those are less important, and you’re much less likely to notice them in the moment. (Actually, you won’t notice bruises in the moment, because it takes a few minutes for a bruise to fully form.) But you’re unlikely to identify the injury until after the adrenaline wears off.

I’ll do you one better, I remember the hit that caused the scar on my index finger. I wasn’t under an adrenaline rush, and I barely felt it. Initially, I thought the blade hadn’t connected, as it was just a white line and looked kind of like a welt. Then, after a few seconds, it started bleeding.

So, yes it is entirely possible to suffer a slash or stab from a knife and not realize the severity, or that it even happened. This is especially true if you’re in a life threatening situation, and are experiencing an adrenaline rush or intoxicated.

Technically you should feel the hit, but without an associated pain response, you could easily miss it.


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