So are instincts such as not touching fire or don’t touch sharp points trained out because we felt pain from them first (or heard it’ll bring pain from other)? Or are those instinct born with us?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. Have you read anything about this subject online or in books? If so could you please provide some details of this and anything you might not quite understand? This would help to answer your question more effectively $\endgroup$ – Chris Rogers Aug 5 at 8:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Babies are fascinated by fire and will instinctively reach out to touch it like they do everything else that catches their eye. They need to be informed of its dangers. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Aug 6 at 16:00

I suppose, you meant "Is survival instinct just a consequence of pain, or is it something different, independent?" And this is quite a good question, because in most cases pain feeling appear together with survival instinct (for example, fights or fire), and it's hard to understand what exactly leads a person.

It's also good to consider pain as a part of self-preservation, together with fear (of pain).

Unfortunately, I haven't found any clear answer, but there are several clues and researches of related topics.

  1. Some rare people feel no pain. However, there are 2 separate diseases: congenital insensitivity to pain and congenital indifference to pain. Both of them lead to higher death rate comparing to normal people, but indifference to pain leads to a bit smaller death rate than insensitivity to pain. We can make a conclusion, that understanding of dangerous situations helps people survive without feeling pain. Thus, survival instinct differs from feeling pain (at least in some cases).
  2. Statistics shows that death rate of people feeling no pain is very high in childhood and decreases over the years. Again, we see that experience shapes the awareness of dangers, and people learn to avoid them even without feeling pain.
  3. There are researches that distinguish and measure separately fear of dying (which can be understood as self-preservation, fear of pain) and fear of being dead (which can be understood as fear of death itself), and they obtain different results. This is another evidence of inequity of survival instinct and (fear of) feeling pain.

To conclude, we can suppose that survival instinct consists of self-preservation (feeling pain and fear of it) and Moree high-level fear of death itself.


  1. David E. Comings, George D. Amromin: Autosomal dominant insensitivity to pain with hyperplastic myelinopathy and autosomal dominant indifference to pain
  2. Lora-Jean Collett & David Lester: The Fear of Death and the Fear of Dying
| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.