5 Superpowers That Aren’t So Super

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by Christian Markle

We’ve been idolizing people with special powers for ... well, forever. Whether it’s some mythological being from thousands of years ago or a modern day comic book hero, we love that whole “doing awesome stuff other people can’t” thing. And why wouldn’t we? Firing a laser out of your toenail sounds awesome.

The thing is, some special abilities are actually real, but they’re more of a curse than a blessing. Having retractable blades in your hands seems badass, but what if it all goes awry when it’s nose-picking time? And wait—you pick your nose? Gross.

 
 

Super Flexibility

The Awesome Ability

The leader of the Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic, is not only able to boast of his superior intellect, but his unnatural ability to stretch his body in extreme ways and at obscene angles. In the face of this guy, maybe even the world’s best gymnasts and contortionists would bow down, or perhaps even kneel. Hell, maybe they should, because he could easily drive them out of business if he ever decided to not do world-changing stuff.

As naturally curious beings, most of us have probably tested the limits of our flexibility. Maybe you’ve tried overextending your fingers or doing the splits before your inevitable hospital visit. Regardless, if this ability were to find its way to the real world, the possibilities are fairly promising. It could assist you in your everyday ninjaing antics or help you sneak past airport security, allowing you to travel around the world on the cheap by way of folding yourself into a suitcase. OK, yes, baggage scanners do exist -- but don’t spoil our dreams here. Plus, you’d have some career opportunities open up, like the aforementioned contortionist. You could call yourself Mr. Fantast- oh, dammit.

The Very Real Downside

Hyperflexibility is actually not unheard of nowadays. It’s called Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, but we’re just going to call it hyperflexibility for the purpose of this entry. Simply put, people with this condition are extremely flexible, which is probably what you think of when you hear the term “double jointed.” They can bend and extend their joints beyond normal human range, but unlike Mr. Fantastic’s all-around stretchiness, only the joints go that way. That means that the muscles, ligaments, and tendons don’t share the same benefit. So it’s kind of like putting the engine of a Ford Mustang into the body of a Ford Pinto. It ... has its issues.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Cool … but no.

Individuals with this condition may suffer from constant muscle aches due to frequent hyperextension, and also things like stretchy skin, frequent joint dislocation, poor balance, and even digestive problems. Fortunately, muscles can be trained and therapy is already offered for individuals with hyperflexibility. Optimistically, these symptoms are temporary and don’t often cause any long-term harm. Which is great news for any aspiring Fantastic Fourers. Fantastic Fourpeople? Whatever.

Heightened Sense Of Smell

The Awesome Ability

The superpower of enhanced smell is amazingly convenient, and is frequently present as a skill for multiple superheroes and villains. It’s like the go-to for the individual who needs to know where to go or what, exactly, has just been in this room and oh my god it’s exactly that thing that’s been a major part of the plot.

Blade, the vampire-hunting half-vampire, has the ability to smell supernatural entities, which he immediately responds to and ... well, eliminates. If we all somehow magically ended up having this smelltastic ability, then finding Bigfoot or Loch Ness would be so much easier. Hell, maybe we can even make a zoo of peculiarities and be a modern-day P.T. Barnum.

X-Men’s Wolfsbane’s smelling prowess is way more encompassing than Blade’s, because she literally has the nose of a dog. This power could definitely aid in all sorts of things, like seeking out the snacks that people have selfishly stashed away from us. Of course, there’s also the possibility of solving crimes and finding dead bodies and other serious stuff -- but seriously, where are the Combos?

The Very Real Downside

Hyperosmia is the actual term used for having a hypersensitive sense of smell. An interesting note is that this condition can be either temporary or permanent, because of reasons, we guess. Sure it could serve as a benefit by at least giving us a glimpse into what it’s like to be Wolfsbane for a couple of days or weeks ... or months? But maybe not so great because it’s more of a horror of smells rather than blessing.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Sure, there might be benefits, but …

Having a heightened sense of smell means, well, super smelling everything. It’s like wearing eyeglasses or watching a 3D film for the first time. Every freaking smell is perceived and the brain is overloaded with this unfamiliar information, which unsurprisingly leads to nausea. And just imagine being able to smell people, all the time. Like taking the subway and being elbow-to-elbow with everyone and … OK, we just threw up in our mouths a little.

Indestructible Bones

The Awesome Ability

Basically every person ever has heard the name Wolverine. That macho, self-regenerating, claw-rearing guy that frequently shows his bones. Our tough guy is quite popular for being pretty much immortal given his high-speed regeneration and having an almost indestructible body. No surprise there, really -- the dude’s skeleton was covered in adamantium alloy, after all. Literally speaking, the chap is the real man of steel ... or man of adamantium. Whichever.

Having almost indestructible bones could definitely come in handy. Forget fighting common street thugs -- leave that to the individuals in uniform. With this ability, you could probably take out Manny Pacquiao or maybe even Floyd Mayweather Jr. If hero work is your thing, then the police and Army should also have a special place for someone like you. Sledgehammers would be a thing of the past. If a single punch could send the door flying, then raids would be as easy as pie.

Pixabay

Pixabay

And everyone loves pie.

This ability would also grant almost complete immunity to accidents. A car crash might not even lead to broken bones, and a direct hit on the head may not be enough to crack that skull.

The Very Real Downside

As cool as it sounds, having rock-like bones isn’t exactly super cool. It’s called osteopetrosis, and is a collective term for a condition which exhibits abnormal bone growth. That might sound amazing for face-punching, but again, it has its set of problems, including increased pressure on the nerves, seizures, and a variety of other issues. It’s basically due to a bone’s inability to lengthen as it calcifies during an early age, which hinders development.

At worst, it could be fatal. Pretty much the opposite of a superpower. Thankfully, treatment exists. So while your X-Men dreams may be dashed, at least you can get help.

Absence Of Fear

The Awesome Ability

Well, maybe the complete absence of fear isn’t exactly a superpower, since our fictional superheroes tend to display it at least once, but you might not have noticed unless you’ve read every single comic or watched every single action movie ever.

Take Daredevil, for example. Yeah, he’s a blind guy wearing red tights with two little horns on his head. He does feel fear, but he does a wonderful job completely ignoring it and blindly plunging himself straight into the middle of slow-motion ass kicking. We definitely want that, don’t we? Imagine being outnumbered by big, evil, macho guys with the obvious intent of beating you to a pulp and not pissing your pants in fear. That would be sweet!

Pixabay

Pixabay

Like pie, probably.

The Very Real Downside

Urbach-Wiethe disease is a real-life medical condition wherein the temporal lobe of an individual’s brain is affected. For us laypeople, it’s basically the part of the brain that’s in control of emotions, sort of like Inside Out. If it gets damaged, it means haywired emotions and a complete lack of fear, quite literally. And it’s not about watching gory movies without cringing or being pressured to touch a cockroach without being a wuss. These people have never experienced the state of being afraid. Which ... hell yeah.

Except, not so much. Life is not a fairy godmother who grants wishes with no strings attached. Rather, it’s more like that douchebag genie that spins your wishes in terrible ways. The deal with Urback-Wiethe disease is that the damage in the temporal lobe spreads out and causes seizures and intellectual disability. It also is accompanied by hair loss, speech problems, swallowing problems, learning disability, and a slew of other scientific-sounding conditions. Although, there was a case of female known as SM, who did not report any problems despite her lack of fear. Despite, you know, not having any concept of fight-or-flight.

Not Feeling Pain

The Awesome Ability

Remember Deadpool’s annoying enemy from his first movie, that Ajax guy? His superpower was to not feel pain. In a world filled with superhumans and mutants shooting lasers from their eyes and claws coming out of their hands, it might not seem that amazing. Sure, you won’t be able to feel pain, but you’re still definitely bleeding. It’s almost the kind of ability that seems absurd.

It’s like carrying a “come at me bro” card into the doctor’s office. Imagine lying down on an operating table and forgoing anesthetic. That’s a couple of hundred dollars off the bill, at least, which ... cool. And even with all that sharp, terrifying equipment lying about, you’re all, “Bring it, doc.”

Pixabay

Pixabay

“That sounds like a challenge.”

The Very Real Downside

Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis or CIPA is what we call this abili- err, condition. Like the name says, “congenital” means it can’t be acquired, like in the movie; only present from birth. We don’t know why that’s relevant -- it’s just a thing.

Pain is the human body’s way of telling the brain that damage has been taken and/or needs something. Either immediate attention or to just get away from whatever the hell is causing it. Its absence would equate to apathy and complete disregard for safety precautions. More often than not, individuals with CIPA view the condition as more of a curse than a superpower. We can’t blame them, obviously -- seeing a bone sticking out of your leg and being sort of so-so about it probably isn’t the greatest gift.

Thankfully, due to the lack of sensing pain, people with CIPA are given greater protection from harm. But this also means it could lead to isolation and activity limitation for, say, a growing child. A girl named Ashlyn Blocker is being protected both at school and at home. She suffers from CIPA, and doesn’t really understand the danger of it. Luckily, other people do, like superheroes for the superhero.

Like this article? Check out “Man-Made Phenomena That Put Nature To Shame” and “5 Times Man Took On Nature And Lost Spectacularly”.

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