When I was a little kid, my paternal family ran a mechanics shop (mostly for auto, but they did some construction as well). Every now and then they would bring some of the tools and equipment in the garage and some staff would work on it.
I had a distant relative that worked there whose fingers on one hand were severed. Each finger that lost its tip, had a mound of flesh, so from a distance it looked like he always had his fingers folded.
He cut it off when he was working on an old table saw during the 70’s. He still continued to work on it though and sometimes he would let me sit right beside him so I can watch (I thought the machinery and how it worked was fucking cool).
might not have been the exact thing we had, but close enough
I asked him several times if I could try the machine out and run 1 or 2 planks of wood myself. He always strictly forbade it. He would always give me that index finger wave on the hands where all his fingers were still intact.
One time, he told me how he cut his fingers off: he was running the material on the machine without looking at it (he was distracted and his mental attention was somewhere else). Then he thought, “Oh, my fingers feel cold,” without feeling any pain. It was only when he looked and realized what was happening that the pain kicked in. The coldness was essentially the sensation he was getting from the metal saw.
Watch this video for an elaboration of how our brains process pain.
“How do we convince people in pain that we understand that they’re in pain but it’s not just about the tissues of their brain?…the key conceptual shift that we think is really important is to understand that pain is the end result. Pain is an output of the brain designed to protect you. It’s not something that comes from the tissues of your body…We show patients a really sharp knife and we go, ‘This knife is sharp yeah? It might even be cold, yeah? And it’s hard.’
It’s got all these properties…This knife (is) painful as it sits out there. No, it’s not: that knife does not have the properties of pain. And when you stick it into their belly…the belly doesn’t adopt to the property of pain. The brain has to do some very rapid and groovy things, to project the illusion that pain exists there. 100% of the time: pain is a construct of the brain.”
I know this is science and neurology, but I think the same concept could be applied psychologically to emotional pain and individual & social response (he did talk about people projecting their pain outside of themselves).
Anyway, also check out a Reddit post: “Why is it that sometimes if you get a cut, it won’t hurt until you notice the wound?“