Most of us, having made it to this point in our lives, have experienced both physical and emotional pain. Pain hurts. No big news bulletin there…Doctors of physical pain medicine as well as neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists have long wondered about the similarities and differences between physical and emotional pain and how the human body copes with both types of pain.
Current research suggests that physical pain and emotional pain from, for example, rejection share common neural mechanisms. This means that emotional pain can actually be quantified and characterized along with actual physical pain. These commonalities can actually be visualized through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. Some of these theories are beginning to be challenged and investigated more thoroughly. Luckily for all of us, researchers are engaged in discovering how our brains process and react to pain.
Here are a few articles to look at if you are interested in learning more about this subject in depth:
- Separate Neural Representations for Physical Pain and Social Rejection: www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141117/ncomms6380/full/ncomms6380.html
- *Response of the μ-opioid System to Social Rejection and Acceptance: www.nature.com/mp/journal/v18/n11/full/mp201396a.html#close
- *The Pain of Social Disconnection: Examining the Shared Neural Underpinnings of Physical and Social pain: www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v13/n6/full/nrn3231.html
*There is a small cost associated with downloading and/or printing these two articles if you are not already a registered subscriber to the journals Nature Reviews Neuroscience, or Molecular Psychiatry.