Congenital insensitivity to pain(CIP), an extremely rare condition in which a person can touch, feel heat and perceive moment. It just happens that they cannot feel pain, it is genetic. It seems like a blessing on paper, ‘No pain! Huzzah, now I can drink really hot Tea and look cool.‘ Ignore that false logic; it is a disability and make no mistake, it is a serious one.
Pain is when your body and the world collaborate to perform basic psychology – negative reinforcement. Something happens, you feel pain, pain is bad so you don’t do thing again. It is this logic and defence system that teaches us not to poke at our eyes or put our hands into fire. Without the nervous system warning them, those with the condition struggle. Even with the most attentive mindset the number of small cuts and bruises amassed is extraordinary. The oddest part of the condition for many outsiders is not the more rapid accumulation of damage, it’s the fact that unless they look at it, the injury will go on unnoticed. One child suffering from the condition, Gabby Gingras, broke her jaw at age 2 and it went unnoticed until it became infected 6 weeks later. The consequence was 6 weeks on an IV drip.
Even before the jaw there was another significant incident. When she started teething, and then chewing. Her parents had her teeth pulled out, in this case the rational thing to do. She gnawed at her fingers and had broken through the skin. Left to her own devices the bone would have been reached. At age 4 her left eye was removed, why? She didn’t know better.
“You’d look away for one second, you’d look back and she’d have her fingers in her eye,” Steve Gingras said. “You’re watching your child go blind right in front of you.”
Restraints and goggles did not work, she literally poked it out. Her right eye remains but is also damaged, she can barely see shapes.
Gabby is a typical case of this condition. She and many others are at risk from something that ironically sounds perfect. They live lives without pain – and that in itself jeopardises them constantly.
- A Life Without Pain – documentary on Congenital insensitivity to pain
- The Facts of Painless People – Website about the life of two CIP sufferers.