London (PTI): "Religion is the opiate of the people" -- Karl Marx had famously said. But can one's faith in God really ease pain? 'Yes', say scientists.
A team at Oxford University has based its findings on an experiment, in which 12 Roman Catholics and 12 atheists were "tortured" with electric shocks as they studied two paintings -- Virgin Mary and Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine.
The subjects spent half-an-hour inside an MRI scanner, receiving a series of 20 electric shocks in four sessions and each time they had to rate how much it hurt on a scale of 0 to 100 as they looked at the paintings. The scientists found that the Catholics seemed to be able to block out much of the pain.
And, using the latest brain-scanning techniques, they also discovered that the Catholics were able to activate part of the brain associated with conditioning experience of pain, the Daily Mail reported.However, there was no such brain activity among the atheists whose pain and anxiety levels stayed roughly the same throughout the experiment.
This doesn't surprise me a bit. I've had four home-births, and the best, the one where I felt most "on top" of the pain was with Dominic. When I had a contraction I would focus on a picture of the Vladimir Mother of God on the bedroom wall.