Chinese water torture

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Dec 9 11:30:48 UTC 2000

At 3:41 PM -0500 12/9/00, Drew Danielson wrote:
>Laurence Horn wrote:
>>  Does everyone else associate "Chinese water torture" with the idea of
>>  being tied down and having the torturer drip water on your forehead
>>  drop by drop until your forehead begins to give way under the
>>  pressure?  Would water really do this?  It does somehow sound a bit
>>  like the alligators in the sewers or the
>>  theft-of-suitcase-with-dead-dog-inside story.
>This is the definition of Chinese water torture that I remember learning
>as a young boy...  It's something that I learned from a friend who was
>interested in experimenting with this technique on our little brothers
>(good thing he didn't know about the rag-in-the-mouth method).
>I think that eventually one could drill a hole in someone's forehead
>using this method, but it would be over the course of geological eons,
>and we weren't able to hold our brothers down for that long.  Actually,
>it was described to me as primarily a psychological rather than physical
>form of torture.  The rhythmic drip-drip-drip & the accompanying
>physical sensation was intended to drive the victim insane (our results
>tended to support this conclusion :)

Hey, maybe it's having a little brother that's key here!  I just
checked with my wife, who was an only child, and for her "Chinese
water torture" was what it was for Doug Wilson--no forehead-dripping
involved, just near-drowning.  Maybe our parents somehow taught us
the forehead version because the alternatives all involve a
time-frame more immediate than geologic eons (or Florida elections).
Now that you mention it, though, I think it was supposed to result in
insanity rather than a hole in the head.


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