In Dune, Paul Atreides was tested by the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit with a box that held pain. The gom jabbar test is used to judge whether someone is human and takes place in a box that inflicts pain through nerve induction. The pain is severe, but it doesn’t physically damage the person being tested. It turns out you can achieve the same effect by using the Thermal Grill Illusion – just don’t add the deadly gom jabbar.
io9 explains the basics of the Thermal Grill Illusion:
The Thermal Grill Illusion was first described back in the 1800s, just as soon as heating and cooling things became relatively easy. Just set out a “grill,” with metal bars right next to each other. Cool down half the bars. They don’t have to be really cold, just noticeably cool. Then heat up the other half of the bars, again, only to a pleasant warmth. The trick is interspersing the two, so anyone putting their hand on the grill should feel warmth, then coolness, then warmth, then coolness.
They should feel that, but they won’t feel that. What they’ll feel is burning painful heat instead of coolness. You feel something similar if you let your feet get really good and cold, then pour warm water over them. Without any damage being done to their hands, the person will feel pain.
That means that if you wanted to get serious about a Dune costume, you could create an actual box of pain. To be on the safe side though, maybe just leave it as a prop.
Read more at io9.