How long does someone burned alive at the stake feel pain? How …

  • Hi my names Hayley I’m 22 and about 11 months ago I almost burned to death. I was trapped in a house fire with 5 other people. When I woke up in the house my first thought was not about my own self but instead the others in the house. I tried to run to help them to no avail. I did not feel the fire or smoke until after I tried getting out myself. As soon as I stepped foot into the living room it felt as if someone had thrown a bucket of acid directly on my face. the screams that left my body were enough to terrify someone. I remember being focused on how bad my face hurt but my thought process was to get out of the house. After awhile of searching the walls for a door I fell down unable to go on. I would not wish that pain on anyone. I truly felt as if all my skin was melting off. But after I collapsed the pain had passed all my nerves were burned to the point of not working. While laying there as the pain left the fear left I was okay in that moment I accepted that that was going to be my last moment alive I knew what was happening and I was at peace enough to let go. I had a seizure right before being pulled out so I thought I had truly died you can imagine my shock when I opened my eyes to the outside world while being put into an ambulance. I don’t remember feeling pain at that point I was more concerned about all the lifeless bodies being pulled out around me. I was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life I don’t remember looking at my body while I payed there only focused on the lifeless 11 year old next to me. I passed out in the ambulance and woke up about a month later in the hospital to a new reality. I got burned 60–70 % of my body and lost 6 fingers due to the damage. I was in the hospital for exactly four months, if were being honest I’d have gone through the fire again vs being in the hospital. The healing process and the surgeries are enough to break a persons sanity. The fire will be the hardest thing I’ve had to go through and over come but I’m doing it. Rest In Peace Robert and Jalen.

    One of my friends is a fireman, and told me once that he sometimes would find people in burned houses sitting up in their beds. What happened, he explained, is that hot air rises. People are sometimes sleeping in bed when a fire starts. The hot air produced by the fire rises and accumulates in the upper portion of a room. If the sleeping people are suddenly awakened by the sounds and smells of a fire, they sit up to see what is going on. At that point, their heads enter the region of air that contains the heat and smoke from the fire. When they breathe this air in, their lungs are seared, causing instant death. Add to the heat the toxins from smoke inhalation, and you have a rather deadly mixture.

    I’m sure that burning at a stake is a little bit different. There are winds to take into account, which may disperse the heat and smoke from the fire. But if the person bound to the stake breathes in much of the hot, smoky air, their death may be relatively quick.

    Addendum: After having written this answer almost three years ago, I found something I can add to it. My answer was predicated on dry wood being used, and calm winds. However, this was not always the case, which I learned after reading the following in Elizabeth I by Anne Somerset (1991, Alfred Knopf).

    This regards the accession to the British throne by Mary I, who was a staunch Catholic. After marrying Philip II of Spain, Catholic power was restored in England, much to the dismay of the many Protestants in the country, and leading to horrible persecutions of heretics, leaving Mary with the nickname of Bloody Mary. “Reunion with Rome nevertheless brought with it a terrible corollary, for Parliament revived the ancient laws authorizing the Church to extirpate heresy by burning offenders at the stake. In February 1555 the holocaust began, and before Mary’s death almost three hundred executions had been carried out, sixty of the victims being women. The persecution inspired intense revulsion, not least because the mode of death was so terrible. All too often, a damp or badly constructed faggot pile ensured that the victims were not speedily consumed, and instead literally roasted over a slow fire. Scenes of horror such as the execution of bishop Hooper, who took nearly three-quarters of an hour to die, pleading with the onlookers to fan the flames so as to put him out of his torment, impressed themselves on the public mind. . .” (pp. 47–48).

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    It would actually depend. How hot is the fire at the beginning? How much of their flesh is burned while the fire is at its hottest?

    The human body has this amazing, incredible function when we experience immense pain from injury.

    Our brain shuts off the pain.

    If the fire is hot enough quickly enough, and burns enough skin fast enough, your brain will go “Oh shit!” and turn off your pain receptors.

    If you are lucky for the exactly right conditions to be there, you wont feel anything after a few minutes, and if you die quickly enough you wont feel anything after your brain runs out of happy hormones.

    That being said…

    Most people burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition…were burned slowly. The goal wasn’t purification, it was inflicting pain. Back then, people knew how to inflict the maximum level of pain for the longest time without killing you.

    First of all you need to understand how we feel pain

    Simply there is a receptor on our skin and other parts of body called nocioceptors or pain receptor they detect any tissue damage and transmit this to the brain to measure the intesinty of signal then estimate how much pain you need to feel to awarn you about the site and degree of the problem

    Most of pain receptors are located on the skin

    Burning a person cause a generalized damage of tissue so this will be transmitted with very high intensity to the brain which i can imagine can lead to very strong feel of pain which mostly lead to fainting

    With the damaging of the skin the receptor on the nerve endings will be destroyed too so the pain signal will stop.

    Theortically the man will stop feeling pain when the receptors are damaged but in the reality the sense of pain will stop before this as the intensity will mostly lead the man to lose his consciousness this may take some minutes according to the intensity of fire and how many parts of the man are exposed to it

    The pain DOES NOT stop. It still hurts after you are dead I bet. Thermal burns are intensely painful as they involved all the senses present in the skin: hot, cold, pressure, pain and any others. The special cruelty of burning at the stake is that they are deliberately burning the parts farthest away from your heart and central core body. That means you suffer LONGER. It has been suggested that the person will die of a fatal heart rhythm due to the pain before burning entirely.

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    My uncle’s youngest brother was heating up a pot of oil on the stove to make french fries. Unfortunately he put the lid on the pot.

    When he went to check on the heat of the oil, he lifted the lid and the pot burst into flames. The coroner said that in his surprise he inhaled lungs full of flame.

    He was found in his living room slumped on his couch. He had apparently lived long enough to stagger over to the couch before he passed away from the severe burns to his face and lungs. I am sure he felt pain after such a shocking accident.

    Online, on gore related websites, there are numerous video posts documenting people being burned alive. Evidently this is a fairly common event in some regions of africa and south america. Most I’ve seen burnt alive were thieves, while the balance were accused and attacked by crowds of vigilante type people getting revenge against child kidnappers/killers, rapists, and the occasional murderer or someone accused of being a witch.

    In most of these videos I’ve seen, the main thing that first comes to mind is, holy shit I bet that hurts. I am a cigarette smoker, and as such I get burnt by either the cigarette or my lighter about once a week. These very minor incidents hurt like hell and may continue to sting for a day or two. I could not even remotely fathom how bad the pain would be as a result of someone beating the hell out of me, then dousing my entire body in a quart of gasoline, then being set on fire by a giggling group of blood thirsty observers.

    Secondly, what surprises me is how…. after the initial screaming from pain, how fast they seem to just give in and lie there and roast silently. I dunno if this is the result of loss of consciousness, or if it’s caused by the rumored way the brain is believed to shut off extreme pain at a certain point, or what. But in nearly every video I’ve seen where someone is burnt alive, they dont seem to suffer longer than a minute or two.

    Therefore, I strongly suspect that in instances where someone is burnt at the stake, they only suffer for about one minute of excruciating agony before the brain shuts them down and renders them unconscious.

    Having said all that…..if someone wants to truly torture someone with fire, seems to me that the best way would be, rather than lighting them on fire, or lighting a fire under them, to suspend them over or beside the fire, and alternate burning them, then taking them away from the heat and dousing them with water, then putting them back in the fire to roast again. I suspect that using this method would inflict the most pain possible for the longest period of time. In my opinion, while lighting the person on fire or putting them directly onto a fire might be visually more exciting to onlookers, those techniques would not actually inflict the most torturous level of pain and agony possible.

    There is no one unique answer. It varies a great deal on how it was done.

    Judges would vary the pain and the duration of the pain in their sentences. The executioners were often trained on how to do different effects. Sometimes they could be bribed to make it faster or slower.

    Mostly, the person would shriek until he was obviously unconscious or dead. Or maybe conscious but rendered mute. When the flames reach the nose-mouth area, the person inhales the hot air. The hot air burns the throat and trachea of the condemned. So the person can’t makes sounds. He suffocates eventually. However, the pain that comes before death must be horrible.

    It also varied with the physiology and psychology of the executed. I don’t know why. However, some people that were burned slowly stopped feeling pain. The feeling of pain was replaced by a euphoria.

    So in these cases, the person remained conscious for a while after the pain stopped. However, I suspect these were altered states of consciousness. Some of these stories sound a lot like ‘out of body experiences’.

    Obviously, the euphoria had something to do with pheromones. Nerve endings on the skin were destroyed. Normally, there would still be pain since the bare nerves were still sending out signals even without the nerve endings.

    However, for some of the condemned had a euphoric vision before they died. Some of these narratives may have been exaggerations made for political reasons. ‘Martyrs’ tend to have visions, for example. Followers make up stories.

    However, some of these claims may very well be true. The body does strange things to a person near death.

    This doesn’t change the general fact. Burning is a horrible way to die. I can’t imagine the insensitivity of judge that would burn people alive. Especially burning old people, or children. Or for offenses that are largely fantasy, like witchcraft. Or even for heresy.

    Sadly, I’ve witnessed this in real life. From that perspective, my answer to how long someone would suffer if engulfed in flame is “too damn long”. It’s a horrendous way to die. It’s disturbing to anyone that sees it in the movies. Its gutwrenching to those that have seen it first hand. While trying to get a better answer after seeing your question, I went searching the net for an answer. I was reminded that it wasn’t long ago that those sick ISIS j/o’s did this to the Jordanian pilot while he was caged. They did it on purpose! Just a thumbnail image of that incident triggered every smell and sound I heard that day when I witnessed an unfortunate motorist trapped in her crumpled burning car. It flooded my mind with the overwhelming memory of how we were unable to save her as she burned to death. It’s a sickening feeling when you’re begging for someone to just die. You are holding your breath waiting for the screaming to stop. So my first answer is the best I can give you honestly.

    However, I want try to give you a better answer. Even though I doubt anyone can really answer this thoroughly without experiencing it first-hand, there’s a few clues that may lead you to a more fulfilling answer. You can look to the body’s defense mechanisms for some understanding. Our brain does well to shield us from intense agonizing pain and I’m guessing that shock will set in quickly and the pain receptors will be shut down when the brain realizes that it’s overloaded. It’s reasonable to think that a loss of consciousness will occur rather quickly as the brain is overloaded with stimuli. The sooner one would lose consciousness, the better. We also know that the brain will dump chemicals into the bloodstream as a means of tolerating the pain or as a means of survival. Naturally your fight or flight response is activated and everything is working overtime to help one survive. It’s even possible for a victim to experience a heart attack when being subjected to something as stimulating as being completely engulfed in flame.

    I would really like to see someone with a greater knowledge of physiology answer this question in regards to the chemicals produced by the body in this type of situation. The body is an amazingly complex machine and has ways to make our last moments a little more tolerable. I’d like to think it’s not as bad as it seems. I’d hope the initial sensation of pain is diminished or even blocked completely and the response I witnessed was due more to panic and not so much pain. It may seem silly to someone that I would say that but I find just a little consolation in there being less pain involved for the victim.

    Side note: I learned in rescue school that drowning victims may experience an orgasm as a result of the endorphins released by the body before a drowning death. Who would’ve thunk it?

    The driver that I spoke of earlier in this answer went from having no fire in the vehicle, as I pulled up to the scene, to being completely engulfed in flames in just less than a minute. Her fuel tank was ruptured in the collision and the fuel was ignited in a pool under, and throughout, her car. As we tried everything we could to save her, we were pushed back by the intense heat and flames. At the time, it felt as if she was screaming hysterically and struggling for a long time. Every second felt like ten minutes. The reality is that she was unconscious within the minute after being fully engulfed in flames. It seems that time likes to crawl in those moments that you feel completely helpless. It’s a cruel illusion.

    I hope this isn’t too graphic for anyone. My apologies if it is. This is the first time that I ever shared this experience in any significant way. I’m hoping that by letting it out, I can start to let the memory fade. Truth be known, I’ve been waiting for the screaming to stop for 20 years. I hope the victim of that accident found peace and comfort in the afterlife.

    Most of the time they die from smoke long before having actually burned

    Unless the excutioners are feeling particularly generous and make a specially designed pye that burn nice and slow, in that case they would enjoy a long and agonizing death (since human body doesn’nt burn well without the help of oil, they will be more like roasted to death than actually burnt)

    As in almost all cases of public executions, the results may vary.

    If your persecutors/prosecutors were somewhat sympathetic to you, it could be arranged for the fire to contain leaves and kindling that would produce large quantities of smoke, thus allowing the condemned person to pass out before the flames caused too much damage (I’m not saying it was pleasant, but probably preferable to burning alive). On the other hand, if you had done something that was particularly egregious, it was possible that you were ordered staked to a series of dry planks that would ensure that you were touched by flames.

    Similarly, if you were to be beheaded, it was sometimes possible that you could get the chief executioner to do the job rather than his assistant or some random guy with a hood and an axe. The benefit was that the executioner was hopefully trained well enough to separate your head from your body in one clean strike. In many cases, though, the condemned person often had to suffer through multiple strokes to completely sever the head (Mary, Queen of Scots required a few blows to complete the job).

    In all cases, the single greatest determiner for whether your execution went smoothly or became agonizingly painful was money. if you had it, you could probably expect a quick death.

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