Is Decapitation Painless? Immediate?

Posts 1 - 25 of 39
  1. 230755
    Unknown User : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    Pakistan is one of the countries that practice capital punishment, and I have to write a review of capital punishment for a petition before the Supreme Court in three weeks. My research requires me to investigate whether decapitation, or beheading, as a form of capital punishment is more humane (can you imagine those words in the same sentence?) than death by hanging or the electric chair (lethal injection and firing squad is being covered by my research partner).

    A particularly detailed report comes from Dr. Beaurieux who, under perfect circumstances, experimented with the head of the murderer Languille, guillotined at 5.30 am on 28 June, 1905:

    "Here, then, is what I was able to note immediately after the decapitation: the eyelids and lips of the guillotined man worked in irregularly rhythmic contractions for about five or six seconds ... I waited for several seconds. The spasmodic movements ceased.

    The face relaxed, the lids half closed on the eyeballs, leaving only the white of the conjunctiva visible, exactly as in the dying whom we have occasion to see every day in the exercise of our profession, or as in those just dead.

    It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: 'Languille!' I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions ... Next Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves ... After several seconds, the eyelids closed again, slowly and evenly, and the head took on the same appearance as it had had before I called out.

    It was at that point that I called out again and, once more, without any spasm, slowly, the eyelids lifted and undeniably living eyes fixed themselves on mine with perhaps even more penetration than the first time. Then there was a further closing of the eyelids, but now less complete. I attempted the effect of a third call; there was no further movement and the eyes took on the glazed look which they have in the dead.

    I have just recounted to you with rigorous exactness what I was able to observe. The whole thing had lasted twenty-five to thirty seconds."


    What would happen, for example, if a mans body was completely crushed by a massive block of cement. All his organs would be reduced to a puddle of tissue and blood within a fraction of a second. Could one feel any pain in those circumstances? Doubtful, right?

  2. 220346
    Peres : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    B ro I'm going to get nightmares after reading that post,going to have to hug the wifey closer tonight,lol. Well there you go the prognosis from that recorded evidence is that there is brain activity after decapitation hence feeling ,that is a very inhumane way to go!

  3. 111346
    Planetjazzbass : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    Well I've seen a lot of different threads on this site but this one takes the cake! lol..I have no idea how painful it is(whether it's humane or not,well that's a rhetorical question)..I'd be willing to help out with an empirical study on the effects of decapitation within Looperman though..I can think of literally dozens of worthy participants..or maybe it would be easier to make it a genre based study,again there's no lack of candidates there..then you could do a follow up synopsis on the relative resistance of baseball cap peaks to guillotine blades....fascinating! finally comes to Looperman..hehe. dv8 your petition will probably turn into a doctorate and best seller ..cheers planet ;)

  4. 230755
    Unknown User : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    True, I gathered the same from the recorded evidence. However, the sensation of pain is a series of electrical impulses that travel up the spinal cord to the brain, where it is registered as "pain". If the connection is severed, how do the electric impulses make it to the brain? Sorry about the nightmares bro, can you imagine I took this up voluntarily? Usually I just handle investment clients and cases.

  5. 230755
    Unknown User : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    And lol planet, thanks for the encouragement man I really needed some light remarks over this because I've been working on such morbid details for a couple weeks already. And yeah, looperman wasn't really the ideal venue for this discussion, but hey everyone here is ready with some advice or other, who knows maybe someones opinion could steer me in a new direction. If nothing else, there's real people here and someone's bound to have something substantial on the topic. Cheers for the smile!

  6. 223506
    siensystem : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    @planet, lol!

    My assumption is that beheading (done via a sharp blade with an instantaneous result) can actually be more humane than most other forms of capital punishment. I mean, in this case you've actually gone to the main sources of the signal path. A complete separation of both body (which contains the peripheral nerves) and spinal chord (which releases neurotransmitters that send data to the brain). I think that more than likely the body is sending the messages of pain but they go un-heard by the brain (obviously).

    Quite the interesting topic you're involved in dv8.

  7. 230755
    Unknown User : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    True. The injury is at the neck, the head has been severed. And the neck is no longer attached to the head, so the messages of pain cannot travel. But what about the part of the neck still attached to the head? That would still be sending messages, and there would still be that small but still attached length of the spinal column, you following my point?

  8. 79125
    Unknown User : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    WOW, here's my thoughts,

    PAIN? yes. Physical discomfort, Doubt it. But if you have the short realization of what happened, i imagibe there is some mental anguish associated with it. But I do not think that it is felt as a sensation of the injury, but like a coping mechanism. As if there is anything to cope wit the loss of your body. LOL

  9. 223506
    siensystem : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    I would argue in terms of the signal path which (just based on what I can remember) travels first through the spinal chord. There is a part of the spinal chord, some refer to it as the Dorsal Horn or Dorsal Column. I believe (if memory serves me right) here is where all messages arrive before being sent further down the line up to the brain. So it may also depend on how much of the spinal chord is left with the head. If the cut is made where the Dorsal Horn remains with the head or with the body. Now, I'm not so sure. LOL.

    Again, it is a very interesting subject. Please let me know what you find in your research.

  10. 230755
    Unknown User : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    I'm talking about physical pain. However, since you have a valid point, here's what I think about that: the real punishment for the culprit here comes at the moment he realises that his death has been decided and there's an exact time and a clock ticking down to it. Every moment from then to the time of execution, is the real punishment. The actual carrying out of the execution is the deterrent for the masses. If it was never actually carried out, the punishment factor of the anguish of impending death would dissolve and there would be no real deterrence for the public. A bit off topic but yeah, food for thought anyway. Thanks man dynamite!

  11. 230755
    Unknown User : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    Will definitely keep you posted siensystem!

  12. 220346
    Peres : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    Duh ,I was not thinking on this one and I was actually studying Physiology at one point.You are right Dv8 the connection is severed but on the other hand the brain must still be processing information for the severed head to respond to sound. Fascinating stuff D.

  13. 223506
    siensystem : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    That is an interesting point Peres because we are speaking of pain and whether the brain is receptive to it. However, sound doesn't go through a filter like the Spinal Chord. The ear has a direct connection to the brain which I can only assume is why there is response from the decapitated. More interesting things to research dv8. :)

  14. 96919
    TaraToxic : Mon 1st Mar 2010 : 10 years ago


    Maybe the criminal should be punished by thinking they are gonna be executed, then led to their fate, scared the crap out of and then given a second chance, kinda like a warning but a warning that will deffinatly punish them, they'll think for their life before they commit crimes again.

    its the psycological factor.

    Anyway, They wouldnt have a split second to feel pain, adrenalin would be at an all time high, and the nerves wouldn't be attatched after a split second. gory stuff!!

  15. 357283
    Marius9 : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    That's up for debate, Tara. You have to think where the adrenal glands are located in the body, and how fast adrenaline reaches the brain when triggered. If you have a really sharp blade that goes through in one quick swipe, adrenaline wouldn't have a chance to reach the brain via the blood stream, because the connection between body and brain aren't connected for the adrenaline to get there in time. Maybe a more dull blade sawing through the neck would give some time to get there but again, no one who has been decapitated can tell you which way is better, so it is up for debate. Gruesome stuff, man. There are natural painkillers located in the brain, located in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands also, but again, I don't really know if that all needs to work together to work properly. My advice would be to ask a medical professional how exactly the natural painkillers in the body work to get a definite answer.

    Personally, I live in a U.S. State where capital punishment isn't practiced, and I have grown up with the belief that if it's illegal for a person to murder someone, why should it be legal for the state to do it? It just isn't logical, and in the U.S., the appeals process and how long a prisoner sits actually costs more, so capital punishment isn't even cost effective for our tax payers!
    This is more than likely not be the case in Pakistan, where there are more people than the entire population of the U.S., a fraction of the physical space, and obviously I don't live there, so I really don't know, but probably less of an appeals process.
    That's all politics though, not necessary for your question. The main forms of execution we us here are lethal injection and gas chamber. I don't think dying before your body is ready is ever comfortable, therefore nothing is really humane.

  16. 358063
    Mechanic : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    The Brain feels no pain. so one could destroy the brain and no pain would be registered. Any Capitol punishment is dodgy. Kill One wrongly convicted man and the whole thing becomes a farce.

  17. 358063
    Mechanic : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    Thinking about it the brain needs loads of blood to circulate oxygen around it so the catastrophic loss of blood pressure would make the brain shut down almost immediatly. If you get dizzy giving a couple of pints of blood imagine what the loss of all blood would do. So I'm not sure I believe the whole opening eyes of a decapitated head thing.

  18. 209373
    KIESERSAUCER : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    What about Phantom pain?? I mean ppl who lose limbs still feel pain even if the arm,leg etc are gone. So I think that there is some pain to a certain degree!!

  19. 353199
    guitarjock : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    One of the biggest problems with capital punishment is that it needs to be swift, severe, and certain. Unfortunately, the appeals system in the United States has ruined that part of it. If we could make it swift, severe, and certain, it would be more cost effective, and it would likely be an even better deterrant than it already is. As much as I would like to agree with the statement "if it's illegal for a person to murder someone, why should it be legal for the state to do it", I feel that capital punishment is too good of a deterrant to just do away with it. Fear is a strong motivator. Also, I feel there is a difference between killing with "moral reason" and murdering. Killing is the taking of life with or without moral reason. Murdering is the taking of life without moral reason. When the state executes a convicted murderer, they are not murdering. The convicted murderer has given the state moral reason to kill them. That's just my opinion of the whole thing.

    Anyway, back to the point of the thread. I agree with some of the comments above that the brain must still process signals for a short period after decapitation. It is likely that the individual still feels something.

    Just my thoughts :)

  20. 439229
    mrE : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

  21. 318543
    profplum : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    "I have come to the conclusion that executions solve nothing, and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people...The trouble with the death penalty has always been that nobody wanted it for everybody, but everybody differed about who should get off."
    Albert Pierpoint ( Hangman )He thought his long drop method caused instant death when the neck was broken at the third vertibrae.Well there wouldnt be much twitching anyway.
    Double barrel shotgun to the back of the head i think would be instant but messy.

  22. 292154
    DjBradd : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago


    Come on?????????What is happening to the members of this site??

    Damnn, Bradd.

  23. 318543
    profplum : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    djbradd's right you lot cos he said it in capitals so back to writing music or there will be no simpsons later.

  24. 358063
    Mechanic : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    Gotta put the pen down now and again Prof.

  25. 96919
    TaraToxic : Tue 2nd Mar 2010 : 10 years ago

    I agree with that marius!

    djbradd, such a random outburst.


Posts 1 - 25 of 39

 ! You need to Log In or Register to post here.

From The Forums
Watched Forum Threads