Love Hurts, But Break-Ups Cause Real Pain

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Researchers at the University of Michigan have completed a study showing that the brain makes little distinction between the ache of a broken heart and physical pain. In other words—social rejection physically hurts.

[...]

[Ethan Kross, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan]:
"When people think about, or experience intense rejection, they may well be experiencing physical pain in their body."

40 individuals who had experienced an unwanted relationship break-up in the previous 6 months, were asked to perform two tasks.

[...]

Kross says the team discovered that powerfully-inducing feelings of social rejection activated regions of the brain that are involved in physical pain sensation.

[...]

That's no surprise for many.

[Anna Jacobs, Florida Resident]:
"Breakups are horrible! I'd say it's just about as bad as any physical pain I've ever felt. But the thing about physical pain is you can usually do something, like take Advil or put some ice on it or whatever. In emotional pain, it's just time."

[Richard McMurrich, New Yorker]:
"Some of my breakups have been really painful--I would say even more so than some injuries I've had as far as physical pain. Even to the point that I broke down and was in physical pain over the emotional part of my breakup or the loss thereof of the person that I thought I loved and was going to spend the rest of my life with."

According to Kross, the suffering of a traumatic relationship break-up should be taken more seriously, for those affected could be experiencing the hurt physically.

[Ethan Kross, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan]:
"...we shouldn't trivialize people's reports of being in actual physical pain when they're rejected. It may not all be in their heads, to use that expression, it may well be in their bodies."

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