I was asked to answer this, even though *I am not a psychologist.*
I will let a psychologist or neurologist give a detailed scientific answer, but I can tell you anecdotally that you do not need to be catatonic to withstand physical pain/torture.
For example, your brain can easily be convinced it is doing something else. You can even train yourself to disassociate physical stimula from the internal world, while still lucid.
As an example, I can keep my arms and legs (and full body, but the doctors don’t generally need to test that) submerged in boiling or freezing water for minutes at a time without feeling any change in overall temperature or any discomfort.
I have no nerve damage. (They test that too :))
It’s simply a matter of telling myself: this is unpleasant, let’s feel something else.
Focus is all it takes if you are conscious.
People in a catatonic state have ultimate focus.
Originally Posted: https://www.quora.com/Are-there-really-psychologically-catatonic-people-who-wouldnt-react-intelligibly-to-physical-torture
Originally Posted On: 2016-05-01