Friday, 24 April 2009

In which I get electrocuted

. . . willingly. Since my '57' post, I have been asked when on earth I was electrocuted twice.

Let's start from the beginning.

Once, a very long time ago, I signed up to participate in a research study at university. What can I say, I was looking for interesting things to do, and what's more interesting than being a human guinea pig? Nothing, that's what.

So I signed up, and the study turned out to be on female reactions to pain. Yeah. Pain. The main show was the session. 'Session' came to be a dreaded word.

Basically, it went like this: I went into the lab. They decorated me with various sensor patches to measure my physiological reactions. They also taped a little shocker to my ankle, and plugged all the cords into a fancy machine. When I was all plugged in, we got started. The machine to which I was hooked sent little electrical pulses, one at a time, to the shocker on my leg. They started really weak, barely noticeable, and gradually increased in intensity. After each pulse, I rated the sensation on a scale that spanned from 'Uncomfortable' to 'Mildly Painful' to 'Very Painful' to 'Maximum Tolerable'.

Once we reached shocks that I was consistently rating between 'Very Painful' and 'Maximum Tolerable', the next phase started. In that phase, I was shown a slideshow of pictures designed to get me emotionally stimulated (negatively and positively). Without going into details, I'll tell you that some were ummm... suggestive and some were quite disturbing. All the while I'm watching this weird slideshow, the machine is sending random shocks to my leg - all of them at the level between 'Very Painful' and 'Maximum Tolerable' - and I am continuing to rate the sensations.

Then we went back to the gradually-intensifying pulses. This time, I got shocked until I rated a pulse 'Maximum Tolerable'. That took a really long time, or at least it seemed long. You try waiting for an agonizing electrical shock every ten seconds, counting down until it hits, and trying to convince yourself to (1) get through one more, just one more, and (2) just rate it 'Maximum Tolerable' so you can be done. Gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

Anyway. I had to do two of those sessions. At the end of one of them, I got a nosebleed. At the ends of BOTH of them, my ankle was bruised and carried an indentation from the shocker for quite a while. GOOD FREAKING TIMES.

(You may be wondering, like many people did, why I went back for the second session after the first one was so hideous. It's because there is nothing worse to me than having anyone call me a 'wuss', or think I'm a pansy. A PANSY I AM NOT. This crazy machismo complex has driven me to do some really weird things - go without eating for four days, for instance. Run barefoot in the snow and evidently, get electrocuted, twice.)

As you may have guessed, I was compensated for my participation in the study. They paid me a lovely sum which I immediately spent on shoes. Which I then couldn't wear for a month until the bruising subsided.

No comments: