Heartache can have the same effect as someone spilling hot coffee on us. Imaging scans show the same parts of the brain light up for physical pain as when you are separated from a loved one or have a broken heart, say researchers at the University of Michigan. They asked 40 people who had a recent unwanted romantic breakup that gave them feelings of rejection to look at a photo of their former partner to think about the relationship. The brain scans taken during this, and other, similar situations were compared to scans when subjects were given a slight pain. The similarities in the brain scans suggest a close connection between our minds and our bodies. The painful emotions that come with feeling socially rejected can scar us in more than one way. The sting of heartbreak and rejection can literally makes us physically ill. Our social well-being is a critical part of maintaining a healthy life.
Is there someone you’ve cast aside with a harsh word, or a loved one on whom you have regularly dumped your negative attitude? It’s not that far removed from poisoning or hitting that person because in the end the results can be similar.
Details of the study are in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.