Social Rejection Truly Hurts: Rejection and Physical Pain Connected in Same Brain Areas

Posted by on 03 15 12 in Love Addiction News | Comments Off on Social Rejection Truly Hurts: Rejection and Physical Pain Connected in Same Brain Areas

Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles are confirming that indeed, having a broken heart is a source of great pain, both socially and physically. In cases like love addiction, where a person moves from relationship to relationship without the ability to stop the behavior, the research may shed helpful insight into the ways the person is experiencing the pain associated with rejection.

Researchers are looking more closely at the connections between pain on a physical level and pain related to emotions, especially in areas concerning rejection. In fact, they noted in a paper published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science that the brain works through physical pain and pain from emotional or social sources in much the same way and in the same key brain areas.

The crossover is especially strong because the experience of physical pain involves the brain ranking how emotionally painful something is, similar to the way the brain processes pain that is socially-based, like rejection.

People with lower tolerances toward physical types of pain, say researchers in a recent article, may also experience higher levels of socially-based pain. People with love addiction behaviors may also experience more physical pain during a period of rejection than others, due to the crossovers and connections between social and physical pain.

They even noted that when people going through a socially rejecting experience took over-the-counter pain medications for a period of a few weeks, they also experienced diminished levels of social pain, further strengthening their conclusions about the crossovers between the two types.

Researchers, however, don’t propose that people drown out social pain with pain medications – rather that they move through the feelings associated with the experience so that they can learn more clearly which types of behaviors lead to rejection or feelings of alienation.

They also hope that the study will help gain more acceptance for the severity of socially-based pain, especially rejection, as this type of pain typically gets less attention than physical types of pain.