A Fear of Pain Could Cause You More Pain

An interesting new study from lead researcher, Dr. Giles W. Story, provides some intriguing information on how we dread pain and value the future possibility of pain.

Dr. Giles says that when people are offered a reward for something, they will often take the reward as soon as possible without thinking about the future. Naturally, we could take this to also mean that people will put off something unpleasant and deal with it at a future point in time. Dr. Story’s research has found that this is not necessarily the case.

“If pain can’t be avoided, most people choose to get it out of the way sooner, even if that means the pain is worse,” said Dr. Story.


Thirty-five participants were asked to choose to take electric shocks of different intensities and times and 71% chose to experience pain earlier to get it over with even if that meant they would experience more pain.

A similar study focusing on surveying participants about imagined dental appointments involving different levels of pain, produced nearly the same results.


Dr. Story explains that we may find pain or anticipating pain as an inconvenience. If the pain prevents us from achieving certain tasks then we are willing to go through more pain to return to our normal state of being without pain.

I definitely see patients in the 71% percentile who may want to just get a procedure over and done with but I also have seen people wait until the deadline because of a fear of more pain.

So which type of person are you? The person who will get it over and done with early so you don’t have to go through pain in the future or do you wait? Let us know in the comments.

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Duane P. Delaune, D.D.S. earned his dental degree at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry, where he graduated fifth in the class. Delaune Dental began in 1990 with the passion of providing great customer service and exceptional dental care. Dr. Delaune loves the wilderness and often hikes or goes backpacking.

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