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Pain Center

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The gross over-simplification of the intricate network of biochemical systems that make up the human body in the interests of proving that one's product is the best at relieving some bodily discomfort.

Usually seen as an animation depicting the sole source of said discomfort as a throbbing or jiggling shape in the head or some other region of the body. This is accompanied by an animation of the product being administered, heading straight for the discomfort — and only there — and promptly eliminating it within seconds.


Related to the advertising use of Ghost in the Machine, but without the anthropomorphism. Pain Centers are impersonal components of humans rather than miniature individuals of malign purpose.


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  • Any aspirin commercial from the 1960s or earlier. Interestingly enough, most of the medicinal effect of aspirin occurs at the site of injury, the drug prevents inflammation (which causes futher pain) and the release of pain-signalling molecules. But any claims that a non-conscious drug molecule can actively seek out sites of pain is just silly.
  • Similarly, avertisements for Nurofen, which are still shown regularly today. They've even gone from implying to outright stating that the painkiller "goes straight to the source of pain" as the little animated target rondel homes in on the affected body part. God knows how they got that past advertising standards.
  • The "Before You Can Say Anbesol" commercial, for a mouth-sore relief medication. (That said, you do directly apply the medication to the affected area; it's a local anesthetic.)
  • "Lanacane's great for itching—all kinds of itching. It quiets itch nerves fast!" (emphasis added)
    • Although, dedicated itch receptors are strewn throughout the skin, the same way pain receptors are.
  • Cortizone 5 and Cortizone 10 used to do the same thing. The commercial talked about it calming "the itch nerves that cause every itch" and had an animation along with it.
  • The little firemen in adverts for Gaviscon Cool heartburn relief, who will hose down your pain centre with Gaviscon.
  • Lest we forget: HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead (to relieve a headache by, no joke, numbing your forehead, which is about as effective as you're thinking right now).
  • Pepto-Bismol ads used a variation of this trope for a long time, using an animation demonstrating its "protective coating action" on the stomach and esophagus. They stopped doing this after it was determined that bismuth salicylate doesn't work that way — it's actually a mild antibiotic with some antacid capability.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Earth: Final Conflict included a gizmo which somehow turned all the nerves in your body into pain receptors. Just what was going to process these pain signals was not discussed.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode where Homer and Barney visit the Duff brewery they see an old Duff ad that has a pleasure center directly targeted by Duff beer.
  • On Rocko's Modern Life, Doctor Hutchison refers to this trope both visually and literally when she describes she merely has to remove the lightning bolts of pain from Rocko's body and install the wavy lines of relief for his appendicitis.

    Web Original 
  • have made an advert spoofing this. The advert is for a medicine against "constantly being struck by lightning". Customers are reminded that it treats actual lightning bolts, not just pain, and also does not treat "suddenly glowing red areas" or "anthropomorphized mucus filling your lungs with furniture".

    Real Life 
  • While a "destiny location" for medicine to heal is fictional, a "starting point" where hurting feelings originate is disturbingly real: adhesive arachnoiditis , the inflammation of one of the membranes that surround and protect the central nervous system, generates chronic pain that often gets to debilitating levels.

Alternative Title(s): Pain Centre


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