Psychologist claims there are 10 more 'neglected' human senses

Balance, motion, pressure, itch, pain, fatigue, breathing, temperature, appetite and expulsion should be recognised as ...

Balance, motion, pressure, itch, pain, fatigue, breathing, temperature, appetite and expulsion should be recognised as extra senses, says a British psychologist.

Never mind sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing, a leading British pain psychologist claims humans have 10 "neglected" senses that should be accepted and recognised.

They are: balance, motion, pressure, itch, pain, fatigue, breathing, temperature, appetite and expulsion, according to Professor Chris Eccleston, director of the centre for pain research at the University of Bath.

"When we think of about bodies at all, we think about them as a taxi for the mind," Eccleston said.

Professor Chris Eccleston, director of the centre for pain research at the University of Bath, says humans have 10 extra ...
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Professor Chris Eccleston, director of the centre for pain research at the University of Bath, says humans have 10 extra senses.

He labelled pain as one of significant experiences in life - from joyous events such as childbirth to plain tragedies such as car accidents. 

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"You are born in pain and quite likely will die in pain. Pain is a backdrop to the way we live."

Eccleston presented the concept of 10 extra senses at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists' (ANZCA) Annual Scientific Meeting on Saturday in Brisbane, attended by more than 2000 medical practitioners, following his research which was published last year.

He interviewed 20 people about their experiences living through the extremes of these 10 other senses.

He argued these senses are equally as significant for patient treatment in modern healthcare as the five common senses, and proper recognition of them by doctors could lead to better understanding of why a patient is experiencing certain symptoms.

"What I'm asking is people have a better understanding of the subjective experience... often we don't ask because in medicine, people often don't know what to do with the answer.

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"[It's] giving people a frame by which to understand why they might feel the way they feel."

Pain, for example, functions as an alarm to a potential threat, Eccleston said.

For people who live with chronic pain, that alarm is constantly going off.

Understanding pain as a physical sense should help in making sense of those alarms, knowing when to ignore them, knowing how to behave without them being there.

"The alarm you are getting is often a false alarm - so you don't need to follow through on that. 

"It's helping people to understand pain is very real, but it's not harming you. It's separating the signal from the harm.

Understanding you can't escape the pain can be therapeutic for some people, he said.

Many of these extra senses are "hard-wired sensations" meaning we experience them without much thought, he said.

"If you think about expulsion - most of the time you're unaware of what's part of your body until it leaves you body, and at that point, you want it as far away from your body as possible.

"These things become very important in certain clinical practice like end of life care - it's hard to swallow, people become incontinent, there's nausea and vomiting."

The writer travelled to Brisbane courtesy of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists' (ANZCA).

 - Stuff

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