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The Scottish woman who doesn't feel pain

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:47s - Published < > Embed
The Scottish woman who doesn't feel pain

The Scottish woman who doesn't feel pain

Scotland's Jo Cameron is one of two people in the world known to researchers as having a genetic mutation that keeps her pain-free, with extraordinarily low levels of fear.

Jillian Kitchener reports.


The Scottish woman who doesn't feel pain

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JO CAMERON, SAYING: "I put my arm on something and only realize it's burning when I can smell flesh burning.

So it's not clumsiness..." 71-year-old Jo Cameron does not feel pain.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JO CAMERON, SAYING: "The normal reaction is you cut yourself or burn yourself once, maybe twice.

Then you avoid that because your brain says don't do that.

Well my brain doesn't say don't do that...." She's not superhuman.

Instead she has an extremely rare genetic mutation.

This groundbreaking finding -- revealed, Thursday, in The British Journal of Anaesthesia... finally provides scientific evidence for what has always made Cameron different.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JO CAMERON, SAYING: ”I was going through childbirth and 'as soon as I feel pain I'll ask for it, I'll ask for it', and before I realised it I'd had the children, so it wasn't a case of I am martyr I don't feel pain, it was I am prepared to take anything because they tell me it's going to be awful.

I felt things, I felt my body stretching, I felt peculiar feelings, but nothing to make me, no pain, it just felt a bit like someone stretching your mouth wide open." Cameron also has an exceptionally low sense of fear or anxiety, according to researchers -- who say, she's one of only TWO people in the world known to have this previously unidentified genetic mutation.

Even eating hot chili peppers leaves Cameron unphased — compared to the 'normal' human reaction.

BUT her genetic mutation doesn't stop feelings of embarrassment - like when she fell over on vacation: (SOUNDBITE) (English) JO CAMERON, SAYING: "And I have headbutted a concrete bollard, lost my front teeth, blacked my eye and cut my face, and Jim said we'll have to go home now won't we and I said no it's ok I will just wear sunglasses and keep my mouth shut for the holiday.

I didn't feel any pain from it, I felt stupid but no pain." Researchers say their findings may eventually lead to new treatments for chronic pain.

… something Cameron will never herself feel.

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