Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Are there people who have no sense of temperature?

  1. Jan 18, 2012 #1
    Are there people who have no sense of temperature? People who, for instance, can't distinguish between hot and cold water, can't feel whether or not it's 20 or 100 degrees F outside?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2012 #2
  4. Jan 18, 2012 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  5. Jan 18, 2012 #4
    Search for "Congenital Insensitivity for Pain". Some of the people suffering from that also can't feel temperature changes.

    This pdf file also contains some information; web.jbjs.org.uk/cgi/reprint/84-B/2/252.pdf It doesn't deal with insentivity for temperate, but it mentions that patients may suffer from it.
  6. Jan 18, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I have to watch out for frostbite in my right leg due to a stroke. "Thankfully" my left leg tells me what's going on. It was a brain-stem stroke and so was not bi-lateral.
  7. Jan 27, 2012 #6
    I remember watching a short film called 'The Wild Child' (or something to that effect) which was about a French boy who was discovered in the woods at the age of 12. He's apparently lived away from society from early childhood, alone. His psychologist/caretaker noted when he went to take a bath he would only use cold water, and wouldn't register it as cold (possible cultural influence on heat/cold sensitivity).

    My own theory is he just had a severe case of acclimation. Probably had a higher percentage of brown adipose tissue than a person who live in a temperature regulated environment, due to his constant exposure to shifting and cold temperature. Just a guess, though.
  8. Jan 30, 2012 #7
    Yes there some people who can not distinguish between cold and hot.These are the people who are leapers
  9. Jan 30, 2012 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    If you mean people with leprosy whilst this is potentially true it misses the point. Leprosy causes nerve damage and could conceivably result in a patient with difficulty in feeling temperature in certain portions of their body however the OP is tending towards people who have dysfunctional thermoception rather than nerve damage.
  10. Jan 30, 2012 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    To be honest, nobody actually has a very good sense of temperature.

    All we really have a sense of is how quickly we're losing heat. That is why touching -20 F metal feels "colder" than touching -20 F blanket. The metal leeches heat from you faster.

    This is also why there is a windchill factor. If ambient temperatures are -20, but with windchill it's -80, it's not actually that you will reach -80. It's that heat will be leached from you as fast as if it were -80 out. You will stop stop losing heat at -20 F in this condition (not that you'd live long enough to measure, of course, but you could have your friends do it for you and publish it in the name of science with a dedication to you!)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook