Marisa de Toledo, a woman of Brazilian origin, has been recognized for having a curious disease that inhibits all sensation of pain and is known as congenital analgesia. This pathology is hereditary and very rare and inhibits the nerve receptors that send the information of the painful experience to the brain.
Patients who suffer it usually have serious orthopedic and bone complications, which highly increase the risk of fractures, scoliosis and in more extreme cases amputations. This disease is quite rare so from 1932 to 2002 only 30 cases have been reported around the world.
Marisa was discovered by her mother, who noticed that from a very young age the girl showed a different behavior than the rest of her children. At the age of seven Marisa broke her ankle, but this did not prevent her from continuing with her daily tasks and she was taken to the doctor where it was confirmed that the child didn´t feel any pain.
Although it may seem like a dream experience, living without pain can be quite uncomfortable because the human body doesn´t realize the injuries that occur from bad posture or bad forces. Since pain is an indicator of danger, and with the absence of pain, the danger of death becomes more imminent.
Marisa’s case is very particular because she has many scars on her body and she has no idea why they are there. Currently this woman lacks the sense of taste, because she burned her mouth while eating very hot food and she didn´t realize the magnitude of the burns.
She had three children and in the delivery of the third one she fell asleep, experienced no pain in childbirth and has never needed anesthesia for the surgical procedures she has had to undergo, such as the amputation of a toe. She says she feels hot and cold, but cannot tell whether it is burning or freezing, which shows that the blockage of the brain is only generated in the face of painful experiences. Some poet once said that pain helps us to stay alive, and to remember that we are.