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Cutting Off Your Own Limbs


Remember Aron Ralston, the famous hiker who got trapped in a canyon in Utah, with a boulder crushing his arm? The movie came out last year, but I read the book several years ago. It’s truly an amazing story. For those of you who don’t know, to summarize the story, he ended up cutting off his own arm with a pocket knife to escape and save his life. It involved hours of breaking his own arm bone, cutting through flesh and nerves, and finally tearing it away and leaving the arm pinned in the canyon.

This article that I read in the HuffPost talks about how humans aren’t the only ones who realize that they may have sacrifice some limbs in order to save their life. The article has a video that shows a crab cutting off its own claw after being injured in a bird attack. The bird attached the crab after it tried to invade the nest and steal eggs. “Even the crab’s hard carapace is insufficient defense against the rapid-fire thrusts of the booby’s powerful beak,” the narrator says. And when the crab’s right claw is badly injured by the attack, he pauses on the sand, and cuts it off with his other claw.

However, unlike humans, crab claws grow back. So this story isn’t all bad. It typically takes about a year for the claw to grow back. My question is to you, what would you be willing to do to save your own life? Cut off your own arm? Your own leg? Thinking about the incredible pain of the nerve fibers and the breaking of the bone makes me cringe- but certainly it would be worth it to be able to live. Or would it? What kind of pain would you be willing to suffer to save your own life?

  1. March 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    After watching 127 hours, I could not believe what Aron Raiston went through in order to survive. Whenever I watch movies like that, I always say that I could never do something like that or would most likely pass out before making any progress, but this post made me realize that I probably would resort to similar measures in order to survive. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and absolute insanity of the situation Aron found himself in, but he realized in his most desperate state that he could survive if he severed his arm from his body. Although I say I do not think I could ever cut off a limb or survive without water, I ultimately believe that my natural instincts and will to survive would kick in and guide me through the process of what to do. Maybe the fear of dying would allow me to stop second-guessing myself and just act instead of reflect. In a classroom or dorm room with friends, people often say that they could never imagine cutting of their limb(s) to survive, but I believe that in a life/death situation, that no matter what type of person you are, you will always try your hardest to survive. People don’t realize what they are capable of sometimes, and after spending a few hours surrounded by nature and/or the very likely possibility of death, I believe that people will change and do whatever is necessary in order to survive.

  2. March 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I just took a biology exam, part of which was about our brain. One of the three parts of our brain, called our reptilian brain, is the most powerful part and deals with automatic and instinctual responses. In a life-or-death situation, our reptilian brain will take over and force our body to act. Therefore, while seemingly “crazy,” it makes complete sense what Aron Ralston did. I think people’s reaction to watching 127 Hours is complete disbelief because we can’t imagine doing something so fearless, with so much courage, and taking so much risk. Personally, I think we can say that most people may react in the same way Aron did, because we are all controlled mainly by our reptilian brain.

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