In your opinion, would an army (or maybe even a specialized unit within an army) have an advantage with human soldiers who cannot feel pain for the duration of battle?

No. Pain isn’t a weakness, whatever any “pain is weakness leaving the body” mantra would have you believe. Outside of very specific circumstances, not being able to feel pain will actually reduce a combatant’s effectiveness more than the pain itself would.

Combatants need as much information as they can get. Deprive them of necessary information and they will make mistakes and die. Pain is critical information. It’s their body telling them, “hey, this thing just got broken.” If you take that information away from them, they can’t distinguish between a minor injury and an immediately life threatening one.

When adrenaline is pumping, you need to suffer a pretty grievous wound for the pain to actually slow you down. If the injury is serious enough that you need to stop what you’re doing, you’ll feel it, if it’s not, you probably won’t.

Gunshot wounds have a reputation for not triggering this, by the way. The body doesn’t know what to do with it, so there’s no “hey, I just got shot” warning until after the adrenaline wears off. But, this is a special case, where that filtering actually works against you.

While we’re on the subject of firearms; during prolonged combat, some weapons will generate enough heat to sear flesh. If your pain immune soldier grabs the barrel, they’ll cook the meat off their hand. This will result in burns that could outright kill them, or at least cost them the hands. As opposed to some nasty burns from accidentally touching it and pulling away immediately.

Outside of combat, pain is a lot more acute. It’s your body saying, “hey, you broke this thing, I’m trying to fix it, stop messing with it!” Sometimes, when you’re setting a limb, or performing surgery, then you need to deal with or suppress the pain, but, the rest of the time, it’s there for a reason.

In both circumstances, you do have to condition yourself to endure pain. As with so many other things, your own natural instincts will work against you. But you still need your pain response. If it’s as simple as, “hey, you’re cooking your thumb on the frying pan, cut it out,” or realizing that just because tetanus shots will cause your entire arm to hurt for a week doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using it, dealing with and assessing pain is something you need to be able to do in everyday life. Combat is no different.


fulminata2 said: Your position works if you plan on reusing your troops. Seems like a unit of expendable berserkers, immune to pain, could turn the tide at a critical moment.

You’re absolutely right. I don’t tend to write with the idea that soldiers are expendable. But, if all you want are shock troops, convincing your soldiers that they’re invulnerable is a classic tactic.

Usually, with questions like this, I make the assumption someone’s asking for their protagonists, and not their villain’s stormtroopers. Partially, because, the smarter your villain is, the better your world and story will be.

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