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Old 08-06-2003, 10:38 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Needle through arm: parlor trick or mind control?

Many years ago I was spending an odd afternoon moment after school watching the Mike Douglas show, a daytime talk show. Mike had a guest on who was talking about how he had developed the ability to control sensation using his mind. After all, he said, (and I paraphrase) pain is just the brain's perception of a physical stimulus, and you can train your brain to acknowledge and then dismiss pain. He then demonstrated by taking a darning needle and thrusting it though his arm, right through the middle of his bicep. (At which point Mike got a little excited, as though he wasn't quite expecting this, and the screen filled with his face warning that this might not be appropriate for children.) The guy then sat there cool as could be chatting away with a needle through his arm. He also mentioned that his technique also is useful to control bleeding. He wasn't bleeding.

Fast forward. I'm now watching Saturday Night Live (many years later but still in the distant past) and Harry Anderson is the guest host. Although he gained noteriety by playing a judge in a sitcom, he was by trade a comic and magician. He did a trick where he put a long needle under the skin of the underside of his forearm and drew it back and forth. The whole time he kept saying, "This is just a trick!" Even as it started to bleed, he repeated, "It's a trick!"

Now then. I kind of buy the theory of what the first guy was saying. I had chronic migraine headaches and learned to continue to function by reinterpreting the pain. I could still feel it but disconnected it from the usual pain reactions. I am not sure someone could do that with a traumatic event like a needle through their arm, however. Was this guy legit? Or was it a trick?

As for Harry, how did he do it?
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  #2  
Old 08-06-2003, 10:42 AM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Trickery. a small amount of spirit gum is applied to the skin where the needle is meant to "penetrate", and after going through a big production of pretending to push the needle through, the gummed skin is folded around the shaft of the needle and adheres to itself. The illusion is pretty good as nearly no seam shows.
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Old 08-06-2003, 10:56 AM
Dogface Dogface is offline
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It can be trickery. However, there are also some performers who have repeatedly pierced themselves until a lot of scarification builds up. You'll be able to tell just by looking at where they stick the needle through. It will be a rather obvious and ugly scar.
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Old 08-06-2003, 12:29 PM
LSD-25 LSD-25 is offline
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There's also the 'needle through the hand' which is doing the rounds at the moment, although this one isn't an illusion. The performer pushes a hypodermic needle through the palm of his hand and out the other side.

It looks more painful than it really is, and I think a lot of people believe the needle is penetrating bone which makes it more impressive.
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Old 08-06-2003, 01:03 PM
AskNott AskNott is offline
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It could be trickery, but the act of punching a needle through one's own flesh doesn't take a lot of mind control. You feel the initial pop of the pierce, but remarkably little surface pain. Within the muscle, you'll feel pressure. If you drive it on through, you'll get another pop on the exit, with perhaps a quick sting. The nerve receptors are not very close together on most of the arm. You're likely to miss them altogether. It will sting more when you pull out the needle and expose the tiny hole to the air. My high school zoology teacher, Leo Sanders, liked to demonstrate all this. He'd grab the needle of a wicked-looking syringe with a hemostat. Then, swinging the whole rig, he'd pop the needle into his biceps, and keep right on talking. The syringe would wobble around as he gestured.

The disclaimer: I make no claim that this is completely safe. Certainly, the folks who do it take care to prevent infection, and to avoid jabbing anything really tricky, such as arteries and big nerves. If you, under your own volition, try such a stunt, you do so at your own risk, as I did, at my own risk. Got it? Good.
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Old 08-06-2003, 02:26 PM
raygirvan raygirvan is offline
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However, the "needle through the hand" is also achievable by illusion, and I'm sure always is when done on a volunteer (consider the the legal ramifications of a stage performer actually sticking a needle through someone else's hand without surgical prep). See this Usenet thread on the subject.
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Old 08-06-2003, 04:18 PM
handy handy is offline
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Actually, sometimes the needle really does go through the skin of the forearm, neck, ear, etc. Seems to me to be about the same as piercing. Sometimes they use rubber cement, but only when you can't actually see it being pushed in.
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Old 08-06-2003, 05:01 PM
Crunchy Frog Crunchy Frog is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
Trickery. a small amount of spirit gum is applied to the skin where the needle is meant to "penetrate", and after going through a big production of pretending to push the needle through, the gummed skin is folded around the shaft of the needle and adheres to itself. The illusion is pretty good as nearly no seam shows.
I'm gonna back up Q.E.D. on this one, as far as how Harry Anderson did it. I'm a bit of an amatuer magician and have done this bit myself. It's ususally done with a trick hat needle. The bulb on the one end is rubber and the needle itself works like a giant eye-dropper. In the middle of the needle is a little hole, this is where the fake blood comes from. Just be sure the hole in the needle in under the folds of skin so it looks like the blood comes out of the "wound" when you squeeze the rubber bulb at the end.

If you see this trick performed again, take note if the performer keeps his arm bent at the elbow. This is normally done because with your arm bent, the skin on the forearm is looser and easier to fold over the needle as opposed to having the arm held out straight.
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  #9  
Old 08-06-2003, 05:17 PM
ianzin ianzin is offline
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Facts as follows.

1. It is the case that many people seem to be able to achieve an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect through meditation or mental faculty alone. The precise extent to which this can be achieved, and how it works, is not fully understood, but the more extreme the claims, the more cautious we should be before we accept them as having been proved or authenticated. The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data', even when it comes to claims of mentally-induced pain control, and breakthrough medical discoveries are seldom validated via TV light entertainment shows.

2. Pushing a needle through your arm: this can be done legitimately. You start with a very fine needle, and push this gently through the skin or muscle. Over time, and by using gradually thicker needles, you can build up, as it were, a 'channel' through the tissue which can accommodate the needle with little pain or blood. But this does take time. The same effect can also be done by trickery. Harry Anderson and similar performers use trickery. I'm a magician, so I won't disclose the method. As ever here on the SDMB, it's pointless asking how magic tricks work because those who tell don't know and those who know don't tell.

3. Inserting a fine needle through the hand from one side to the other. It's not a trick, as such, in that it's a real needle and it does go through the hand. But it is a very, very fine needle, it only goes through soft tissue, and it still takes a little time and practice before the tissue is accustomed to the practice and it can be done safely.

4. In general, it is possible to stick fine needles into skin or muscle tissue without pain, injury or blood. Acupuncture practitioners do it routinely. If the needle is fine enough and sufficient care is taken, this can be done safely and without trickery. This should be regarded as any sort of validation of acupuncture, which is based on misguided and unproven assertions and achieves nothing except a placebo effect.

Don't go trying any of this yourself. It is dangerous and you could seriously harm yourself. There are many risks which arise from infection or lack of proper sterilization of the needles. In general, don't ever break your skin intentionally and don't let anyone else do so unless they have the requisite medical training and experience to do it safely.
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  #10  
Old 08-06-2003, 05:40 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Pushing a needle through your arm: this can be done legitimately. You start with a very fine needle, and push this gently through the skin or muscle. Over time, and by using gradually thicker needles, you can build up, as it were, a 'channel' through the tissue which can accommodate the needle with little pain or blood. But this does take time.
Or it can be done directly using a large guage needle and no tirckery and no mind control. Several freinds of mine have been required to do this as part of his kung fu grading. With no prepartion of the type described above two large needles were inserted through the skin of each forearm. Wires were then suspended form the needles and four roofing tiles loaded into the 'cradle' thus produced. These were then shattered.

I know a couple of these people very well. I saw the needles go through and i saw them come out. I also saw the holes and the scabs over the next few weeks. No trickery. No months of preparation. Just pure pain control. The amount of blood at the time is fairly small normally, although on one occasion the 'breaker' didn't hit right, the tiles didn't break and the skin tore slightly. That bled.

Of course these people are fairly nuts and also regulalry hit each other with bamboo rods and kick each oither in the ribs at full power amongst other masochitic training techniques.

You can take this anecdotal story for whatever you think it's worth, but can assure you that passing a needle through the skin of the arm isn't particularly painful, doesn't require any preparation and doesn't ned to be a trick.

Passing a needle through the muscle might be another matter.
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Old 11-24-2013, 05:35 PM
Slyman Slyman is offline
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I have seen this trick done before, but with very thin swords. The guy could stick lots and lots of swords all the way through his body at various points. He'd end up with about 5 swords going through him.

The way he did this was pretty much with thin dilators that he'd press through his body each side. He'd continue extending the length of these over a course of several weeks until his skin had stretched to touching from each side which would then be pierced and healed together. Nerves/blood vessels would move to the side of the skin if this was done slow enough. He'd effectively have a thin skin tunnel all the way through his body. Then he would use long dilators to increase the size of the tunnel until it could accept reasonably thin swords (like long needles really - they were custom made).

The effect was amazing, he could be stabbed slowly all the way through his stomach and from side to side etc and not bleed. The guy did eventually die after several years performing this act, I guess he accidentally created one too many cannula's through his body - perhaps piercing some vital organ.

I suspect David Blaine has done exactly this, created a very thin tunnel of skin through his hands and bicep that effectively just looks like a small dot or pore in his skin. It appears that he has created a very thin hole so the skin was tight and there was lots of friction with the ice pick. If he greased it then it would slide through easily, ruining the effect of it piercing through at the end.
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Old 11-24-2013, 05:41 PM
Slyman Slyman is offline
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A follow up note with videos of the guy - he name was Mirin Dajo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltIJCS2CYvg

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com...urvive?image=0

Interesting stuff.
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Old 11-24-2013, 05:48 PM
Slyman Slyman is offline
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Sorry - slightly wrong in my post, they were actually scar tissue fistula's according to that article I found. Can't edit my above posts!
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:19 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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That is the best revival of a zombie thread I have ever seen. Ten years later and still providing new, relevant information!

That video looks pretty realistic but the second clip in the first link looks like that sword would have to have gone through a lung. Going through superficial tissue is one thing, but a lung?
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Old 11-24-2013, 08:54 PM
White SIFL White SIFL is offline
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Originally Posted by Slyman View Post
A follow up note with videos of the guy - he name was Mirin Dajo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltIJCS2CYvg

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com...urvive?image=0

Interesting stuff.
How in the fuck is that even possible!?
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:12 PM
DataX DataX is offline
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Originally Posted by White SIFL View Post
How in the fuck is that even possible!?
I don't know enough about anatomy to address CookingWithGas's lung concern, but it this page:

http://www.skepticblog.org/2010/05/1...an-pincushion/

Is to be believed - it wasn't a trick - it was real and the theory is he did it gradually - built up a tunnel of scar tissue - that basically served as a sheath...

He died at 35 from attempting some other trick - so not sure id recommend it. There has to be better ways to pick up women....
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:12 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is online now
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Needle through the arm? Pfft -- amateurs! These guys show up every year down South during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival (may be disturbing, so NSFW):

www.google.co.th/search?q=phuket+%22vegetarian+festival%22&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=lb-SUszlCsWsiAe50oG4BQ&ved=0CFIQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=629

Yes, it's trickery, but I forget the logistics of it.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:03 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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David Blaine did this on a special the other day. I'd love to know if the ice pick through the hand was just repeated body piercing as described above, but the long needle through the bicep appears to be using a gummed on chunk of rubber, it's noticeably a different colour in some camera angles and the "skin" behaviour is very different, much like rubber cement.

It reminds me of the movie Burt Wonderstone, where Jim Carey's character is sticking knives into himself and for a finale, there's a precise spot he can drill into his skull without hurting himself. As Alan Arkin's character says, "that's not magic."
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