What does a suicide bomber experience of feel after he (she)...

sets off the detonator?

Is there any pain or awareness of anything?

Depends what sort of device they are sitting on; if it’s an incendiary or it is too small to completely and instantly destroy their body (like a grenade in the trouser pocket maybe), then they might be able to experience some of it, but if it’s a few hundred pounds of high explosive, I think the pressure wave from the explosion will be travelling at a greater velocity than the bomber’s nerve impulses, so by the time the pain/pressure/heat/flash signals get to the brain, there isn’t a brain there anymore, so they would not even be aware of it (assuming for the purposes of this question that awareness is a purely biological function with no supernatural aspects).

I’m not sure – I’ve (unfortunately) seen a few photos of the IDF picking up the intact head of a bomber, which may mean that they remained concious for a little bit after the explosion (like the story of the guillotine victims eyes looking at the crowd as their heads were hoised aloft). Of course their bodies would have been blown away before the nerves could react, so there might not be pain, but I could imagine that they might be able to hear the blast, and watch the world spin as their heads fly up into the air.

I’d mentioned awhile back I’d seen a picture in one of the news magazines of (I think this was the event) two suicide bombers from the Egyptian tourist bus explosion several years back. It’s permanently seared into my conscious.

The two existed only down to about their chest. Their faces were covered with small cuts and were a little brownish, these being due to debris and explosive reside I guess. But what was freaky was that they both still wore this ghoulish smile, both on their lips and in their far staring, glass eyes. Damn unnerving actually.

Gah, they’re not recruiting glass eyed bombers now. My mind’s full of residue.

During the French Revolution, there was a lot of ghoulish experimentation with freshly-decapitated heads, to see if there was any sensation or brain fucntion left. None of the scientists found anything but automatic nervous tics and reactions. So I imagine any “facial expressions” on those blown-off heads are pretty much meaningless.

The first in a series of “Quotes You’ll Never Hear Traci Lords Utter”.

What does a suicide bomber experience of feel after he sets off the detonator?

Isn’t it supposed to be an orgy of virgins?

“Isn’t it supposed to be an orgy of virgins?”

—Nope. Turns out all they get from Allah is a plateful o’ white raisins. So maybe that IS shock you see on their faces, after all!

If not pain, then I imagine the final experience would be a sense of expectation and anticipation.

There was a column by Cecil that asserts exactly the opposite: that decapitated heads will sometimes live long enough to be awair of what’s happened to them.

I think they are surprised.

“There was a column by Cecil that asserts exactly the opposite: that decapitated heads will sometimes live long enough to be awair of what’s happened to them.”

—I certainly don’t want to disagree with our Fearless Leader . . . So I will just note that the author of the book “Guillotine” disagrees with him.

Dear Cecil:

A character in the movie Wolfen said that during the days of the French guillotine, some decapitated heads actually were cognizant of their plight. Since the brain can live over a minute without oxygen, could some of the heads have seen their headless bodies and realized what a predicament they were in? --Anonymous, Phoenix

Dear Anonymous:

You’ve been watching too many cheap horror movies–although to be frank about it, this kind of thing isn’t confined to the silver screen. My somewhat credulous mother used to tell us a story about a Catholic martyr who, after decapitation, picked up his head and kissed it. Not being dummies, we pointed to out to her that there were practical problems involved in a headless body kissing anything. Anyway, the fatal blow in a beheading induces immediate unconsciousness, even though the brain may not actually expire for several minutes. Even if the head were somehow miraculously reattached to the body, a phenomenon known as “retrograde amnesia,” common in accident victims, would most likely prevent the subject from remembering anything about the event.


The Master never said that that “decapitated heads will sometimes live long enough to be awair of what’s happened to them.” As pointed out, he said the exact opposite.

Almost, plnnr. That’s the column Do decapitated heads briefly remain conscious? (undated). If you search on ‘decapitation’ in the archives, you’ll get a follow-up column Does the head remain briefly conscious after decapitation? from 12-Jun-1998. The last part of the newer column reads as follows:

Emphasis mine.

To a much lesser extent:

Having just had a pipe bomp explode within 2’ of my head I wonder if I can shed a little light or maybe insight at least…

It exploded. It was loud. Horribly loud. Yet I don’t recall hearing it. My nearby friends both quote that it was the loudest thing they’ve ever heard in their life.

I never heard it. I imagine I did, but I was immediately numb.

It hurt my hand pretty badly and it was numb. My face, where it was hit, was numb. My hearing was gone.

Point? When the suicide bomber’s bomb explodes, I imagine he is instantly numb, whether or not he is instantly dead.

I was in pain afterwards, but for the first few minutes I couldn’t feel a thing…much too long for a brain to survive through…


Boy, theleetbeagle, are you ever lucky. Who was the dumb@s that snuck into your locked house and exploded a frikken PIPE BOMB next to you and your equally innocent little friends? I’m so sorry for you guys. Y’all were probably just playing video games right before your milk and cookie snack when it went off, huh?

Someday when your hearing’s completely gone somebody will ask you a question and you’ll not respond but instead of blaming the silence on your ears, they’re gonna figure it just takes you forever to formulate a response.

Lay off the explosive vandalism, mkay Buddy?
Ino, your story about the beheaded taxi companion has absolutely haunted me since I first read it yesterday. What a horrible realization that poor guy had to endure in his last moments of life. Based on the eyewitness’ description, it certainly would appear that conscious thought would continue briefly after separation. That story just plain gives me the creeps.

You’ll still have to color me skeptical.

Involuntary muscle contractions of the face, mouth, eyes, etc? Sure. But actual conciousness that “Damn, my head is separated from my body. This really sucks. How will I ever explain this to the wife and kids.” Nope. I don’t buy it.



It wasn’t MEANT to be a pipe bomb. It was meant to be some R&D for a potato gun.

Never insert carriage bolts into potatoes, then attempt to shoot them.

The bolt ends up plugging the barrel…giving you a pipe bomb.


Hmmm, perserverence is the name of the game here; stick at it; you’ll scoop that Darwin Award yet.