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Medicine Science

Physical Pain and Emotional Pain Use Same Brain Networks 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the morphine-cures-broken-hearts dept.
Antipater writes "To the brain, heartbreak and emotional torment are no different from having hot coffee spilled on your hand, reports CNN. They cite a recent study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which 40 recently-dumped men and women underwent fMRI scans while having their arm burned or being shown a picture of their ex. The stimuli produced nearly identical brain reactions."
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Physical Pain and Emotional Pain Use Same Brain Networks

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  • ...scientists found to be dreaming up bizarre study purely to satisfy their own schadenfreude.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by petteyg359 (1847514)

      A lot of inspiration can be found in seemingly bizarre experiments.

      • by SomeJoel (1061138) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @08:42PM (#36369966)

        A lot of inspiration can be found in seemingly bizarre experiments.

        For instance, with the properly constructed experiment, we could finally figure out "How many marketing people does it take to change a lightbulb?"

        • by Anonymous Coward

          A lot of inspiration can be found in seemingly bizarre experiments.

          For instance, with the properly constructed experiment, we could finally figure out "How many marketing people does it take to change a lightbulb?"

          While standing barefoot in a puddle of salt water....

          And another experiment where we have bleeding Wall Street lawyers in a pool of sharks to see if there really is professional courtesy between the two.

          And I for one truly believe, as God is my witness, that Congressmen can fly by flapping their arms if they are released from a high enough altitude,

        • by mjwx (966435)

          A lot of inspiration can be found in seemingly bizarre experiments.

          For instance, with the properly constructed experiment, we could finally figure out "How many marketing people does it take to change a lightbulb?"

          We started this experiment back in 1972, as of 8 am today, we have no results.

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        It's a joke. If the mental image of a bunch of dudes in white coats with clipboards sticking a guy in a big humming machine, and proceeding to burn his arm with a hot iron doesn't amuse (or terrify) you, then you are officially a zombie.

        • by SomeJoel (1061138)

          It's a joke. If the mental image of a bunch of dudes in white coats with clipboards sticking a guy in a big humming machine, and proceeding to burn his arm with a hot iron doesn't amuse (or terrify) you, then you are officially a zombie.

          You should see how they inflicted the emotional pain!

          • You should see how they inflicted the emotional pain!

            "Yes, miss, we understand. Yes, he has been a loving, honest, and decent boyfriend. He has treated you with respect, and he has been there for you in some difficult times, like when your dog died. He brought you chocolates and flowers on Valentine's day and he even cooked you dinner. He tolerates your mother and your father thinks he's a stand-up guy. But you see, you still have to dump him. You have to dump him for science."

        • As a psychology major, I am amused, but I also see the merit of this experiment.
    • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by morethanapapercert (749527) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @12:02AM (#36371216)
      I don't find this story bizarre, quite the opposite in fact. I think this research might be able to shed light on some; as-yet poorly understood, sources of pain, such as Fibromyalgia. Right now, the only real treatment for Fibromyalgia is an anti-depressant called Cymbalta. In the words of my doctor "for a large minority of cases, this drug helps, but we don't know how or why" (for the record, I am among those for whom it is not very effective unfortunately)

      In my opinion, any ethically run study on the mechanisms of pain and how they might be linked or related to the mechanisms of depression are a Good Thing

      • In addition to the medical utility, such work likely has a fair amount of basic research value. The brain is monstrously complex and we don't understand it all that well. The demonstration that one phenomenon is actually a slightly modified version, re-using much of the same tissue, as a quite different seeming one likely has interesting implications. We know in broad strokes that the brain is a giant pile of hacks and ad-hoc extensions of prior function; but that isn't nearly the same thing as knowing the
      • by Knuckles (8964)

        Not a drug, and there are no guarantees, but did you try Tai Chi Chuan? Last year a small study found [google.com] that it helps with some of the symptoms. My mother-in-law, who suffers from fibromyalgia, reports that since she has taken up Tai Chi the symptoms improved and, maybe even more importantly, she feels much better emotionally. As a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner of 14 years myself, I would say that regardless of any effects on fibromyalgia it is worth taking up TCC anyway for the many general benefits it brings. B

        • Thank you for the suggestion Knuckles, but I have tried Tai Chi, as well as Reikki and Shiatsu massage. About the only thing I haven't tried is medical marijuana. So far, the only noticable relief has been from Cymbalta combined with another anti-depressant and melatonin to make sure I get plenty of deep restful sleep. When I am physically active, even that isn't enough to prevent crippling and depressing flare-ups.
      • Makes sense. Nature has a habit of reusing "hardware" for multiple functions, especially in the brain.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Just because you can't understand the perfectly reasonable basis and implications of a study like this doesn't make it "bizarre". It makes you anti-intellectual, or at least it does when you dismiss it out of your own ignorance and lack of imagination.

  • but the same brain you are talking about has a "would you rather" processor - and mine would rather suffer an emotional heartbreak than a boot to the head
    • by ustolemyname (1301665) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @08:51PM (#36370032)
      Yet I, having suffered both, would rather the boot to the head.

      Different people value equivalent things differently. News at 11.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by barlevg (2111272)
        agreed. pain from a boot to the head fades faster.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          boot to the head, agreed. but kick in the balls, that's a whole different story...

          • Still fades faster. A solid kick and, what, you feel sick, nauseous, just want to curl up and die?

            For how long? Five minutes?

            Yeah, a bad breakup can have at least those symptoms, but for weeks, at least.

            • Balls (or head) usually don't start to hurt again when you remember you were kicked some time ago.

            • by hellop2 (1271166)
              The effects of Limerence [wikipedia.org] can last for 2-3 years.

              It took me about two years before I stopped waking up every morning, crushed, upon realizing that I had been dreaming, and that we weren't together again, laughing and kissing.
            • by jvkjvk (102057)

              You should always live through the effects a bad breakup (unless you kill yourself or your partner does).

              Not so with a boot to the head.

              That solid kick to the head may cause lasting bodily damage - spinal injury, brain damage, death, etc.

              Don't underestimate a boot to the head - it could be the last thing you do.

              • That's why I was talking about a kick in the balls, not a boot to the head.

                But for the sake of argument, a boot to the head, depending how solid it is... It might kill me, but I also might be fine in a few minutes. A bad breakup is almost by definition going to hurt for awhile. It won't kill me (short of suicide), but there's also no chance that I'll be fine in ten minutes, or one day, or a week...

                If we're allowed to cheat, I'll take the boot to the head because I can probably avoid that a lot more easily t

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Had a colleague of mine that slammed his head good, he was on sick leave almost a year before he was back 100%, dizzy spells, light sensitivity and throbbing headaches... so I wouldn't underestimate the boot to the head.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Yet I, having suffered both, would rather the boot to the head.

        Amen to that. Thankfully I have only experienced a real broken heart once, and I suspect that many people are lucky enough to never have the full experience. The closest thing I can think of was having my father die, a tooth crack, and a broken pelvis all at the same time. But I'd rather take all that again over a heartache, cause that put me out of commission for months, and decades later, I'm still having flashbacks.

      • by petman (619526)
        A boot to the head can kill you or leave you brain damaged. Not, always, but there's the possibility.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @08:58PM (#36370082)

      but the same brain you are talking about has a "would you rather" processor - and mine would rather suffer an emotional heartbreak than a boot to the head

      I have suffered tremendous psychological pain because of mental illness and I think I'd prefer physical pain... hell, one way of making your brain let go of mental anguish is to hurt yourself, cut, burn, whatever. Then you can focus on the throbbing pain of the cigarette burn, overriding the mental pain, and it is heaven compared to severe anxiety/panic.

      • by definate (876684) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:08PM (#36370498)

        This remind's me of something a teacher from primary school used to say...

        "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will always hurt me."
        - Penny Sinclaire

        I remember this profoundly affecting me at the time, because people had always stated the converse (that "names will never hurt me"), blew my mind at the time.

        It must have affected me so much, that to this day, I still remember it some 20+ years later.

    • Parent is fucking nuts and deserves a boot to the head.

      • by doug (926)
        Everybody deserves a boot to the head. Sometimes we know why, sometimes not.
    • Then you've never suffered a real heart ache. A real heartache is torture so painful that its effects can last for years, whereas a boot to the head merely hurts, and even surgery is just very painful for a few days. Nothing compared to a real heart break.
    • Spoken like someone who's either never lost anyone, or who doesn't love very deeply.

      • by mldi (1598123)

        Spoken like someone who's either never lost anyone, or who doesn't love very deeply.

        Or they're just able to manage it more efficiently and not whine about it for 10 years.

        • If they can get over it completely as quickly as a bruise on their head (couple of weeks), or even a crack in their skull (say 3 months), then it can't have been much of a "heartbreak". That's more of a "we went out for a couple of months and then one of us got bored".

  • Bad scans (Score:1, Insightful)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432)

    Goes to show how crude our current scanning techniques are.

    I've burned my hand before and the sensation was quite different from being dumped.

    Not to say it's magic or not in the brain. Just saying fMRI isn't accurate enough to detect the difference. There most certainly is a difference.

    • Re:Bad scans (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @08:59PM (#36370096)

      I don't know why parent is being modded up and the AC down. It's not like the researchers are saying to one another, "seeing as being dumped feels exactly like spilling hot coffee one the hand, we should check if this is backed by brain scans". You say that you know that the difference is, in fact, detectable between the two by adequate brain scanning equipment. You back this up by saying that the experiences feel different. That is as ridiculous as saying that you've rubbed charcoal and diamonds on paper, and you know they're different elements.

      • by williamhb (758070)

        I don't know why parent is being modded up and the AC down. It's not like the researchers are saying to one another, "seeing as being dumped feels exactly like spilling hot coffee one the hand, we should check if this is backed by brain scans". You say that you know that the difference is, in fact, detectable between the two by adequate brain scanning equipment. You back this up by saying that the experiences feel different. That is as ridiculous as saying that you've rubbed charcoal and diamonds on paper, and you know they're different elements.

        No, this raises an interesting question about another possible experiment, testing out philosophies of mind. Under materialism (as opposed to dualism) the experience is believed to be entirely contained within the brain (rather than an additional 'mind'). So, if the vast majority of subjects report the sensations as 'feeling' qualitatively different (that data hasn't been collected), then under materialism [good enough] scanning ought to be able to identify the difference. This suggests a possible experi

        • by nusuth (520833)

          Most materialists would accept mental states are distinct from brain states and that mental states are a different level of abstraction from brain activity. Think of a typical desktop computer. If you observe someone else use the computer and simultaneously observe the electrical activity of CPU (and rest of the hardware) at transistor level, you would have a hard time mapping the program function to CPU activity. It would be absurd to hold a dualist position over that hardship, to claim that since you can'

          • by williamhb (758070)

            If you observe someone else use the computer and simultaneously observe the electrical activity of CPU (and rest of the hardware) at transistor level, you would have a hard time mapping the program function to CPU activity.

            Actually, that's not true -- it turns out that by analyzing the electromagnetic radiation from a CPU you can get quite a lot of information, to the point that electromagnetic snooping of what's going on inside the chip is a published security attack method! But anyway, most of what you were saying is an objection I already suggested -- that a materialist could object it is the nature of the activity that causes the distinction (and so two different activities would scan largely the same).

      • That is as ridiculous as saying that you've rubbed charcoal and diamonds on paper, and you know they're different elements.

        No this is a case of a very vague study with low precision. I'm not saying that the same regions of the brain don't light up... I'm saying even though they light up it doesn't mean the experiences are terribly similar.

        This study was the first to show that rejection can elicit a response in two brain areas associated with physical pain: the secondary somatosensory cortex and the dorsal posterior insula.

        With insufficient precision you can say "Both pain and rejection cause neural activity!" But that doesn't tell you much.

        A more apt analogy to this study would be the researchers taking glass and diamond and concluding they are carbon since they're both hard.

        I could tell you that both anger

        • Granted, the "To the brain..." quote was pulled from CNN's analysis, not the scientists'. And like you said, knowing that the "same brain networks that are activated when you're burned by hot coffee also light up when you think about a lover who has spurned you" is one degree of accuracy more than we had before this study.
    • by ATMAvatar (648864)

      That may simply be due to a difference in intensity and duration. That says nothing about which part of the brain is going to handle each stimulus.

      The idea that emotional pain can manifest itself physically is hardly new, and this experiment reinforces that idea.

    • by barlevg (2111272)
      I doubt the researchers are saying that physical and emotional pain are the exact same but rather that one's brain processes them in similar ways. So it suggests that it may be more than just poetic or overdramatic when one says, "It feels like my heart's been cut out" after a messy breakup.
      • by statusbar (314703)

        This is not really news; there was a different set of researchers last year who found that people taking painkillers like ibuprofin had less emotional hurt when a girlfriend dumped them.... So if you are expecting a messy breakup, take a bunch of ibuprofin as if you had a migrane.

        --jeffk++

    • Re:Bad scans (Score:4, Informative)

      by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @09:09PM (#36370180)

      Goes to show how crude our current scanning techniques are.

      That'n no true. What is however true is the /.-ers seldom read TFA.

      I've burned my hand before and the sensation was quite different from being dumped.

      Now, form the second FA:

      a network of brain regions that support the aversive quality of physical pain (the “affective” component), principally the dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) and anterior insula (AI), also underlie the feeling of social rejection. In contrast, the brain regions that support the somatic representation of physical pain, and are most closely aligned with the “sensory-discriminative” component—including the operculo-insular region [i.e., secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) and dorsal posterior insula (dpINS)]—are not activated by social rejection and do not factor into current theorizing about the neural overlap between social rejection and physical pain (1, 2).

      Translation: yes, the main areas activated in "affective pain" and "physical pain" are different.

      As plausible as this rationale is, here we suggest an alternative: that the neural overlap between social rejection and physical pain is more extensive than current findings suggest. Specifically, we propose that experiences of social rejection, when elicited powerfully enough, recruit brain regions involved in both the affective and sensory components of physical pain.

      Which, applied to your case, seems to indicate that your feeling of social rejection was not powerful enough. That... hints a bit about you or the strength of your relation, isn't it?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Please tell me you aren't actually that stupid. I'm pretty sure that they didn't say anywhere it felt the same, just that it used the same brain networks. Durrr of course it doesn't feel the same, I'm sure they've also burned their hands and been dumped. You're not unique in your experience.

    • Just because it feels subjectively different that doesn't mean it isn't processed by the same part of the brain. I've seen very different things through my eyes.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Okay, this isn't really related, but it does show that emotional pain can lead to severe physiological effects:
    Broken Heart Syndrome (wiki link) [wikipedia.org]

    Emotional stress can trigger a cardiomyopathy which can kill (possibly from stress-released levels of adrenaline). In fact (quoting from wikipedia), mortality rates in general show that in the year following a loved one's death, women are twice as likely to die than normal, and men 6 times more likely.
    (Though this may have a lot to do with the widower effect. [obit-mag.com]

  • I read about this a year or so ago, probably on Slashdot even.

  • by bragr (1612015) * on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @08:55PM (#36370066)
    What about the brain activity when your ex burns your arm?
  • Emotional and physical pain feel different to you, don't they? That means they feel different to your brain. I'm certainly not denigrating this study - it's interesting - but the link to the CNN summary is not fit for nerds. The article's title makes such an irrational claim that it should not be considered for further reading. The journal article's authors realize that a good fMRI scan gets hundreds of thousands of neurons per voxel at best. Even if the data were identical (they weren't) it only means is t
  • All MRIs look the same...
  • Sometimes Physical pain triggers an emotional response (say, if you were abused as a child, and as an adult, someone hits you, reminding you of the abuse you suffered before). Sometimes Emotional pain triggers a physical response (broken heart syndrome). It's not as clear cut as saying "This is physical, this is emotional, and there are strict limits on how they occur."

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @09:12PM (#36370206)

    Since only a masochist would agree to participate in such an experiment, the results may not be applicable to the general population.

  • What showed up on the MRI when the subjects lost their internet connection?
  • If this article tickles your fancy about just what's going on inside the human mind, may I suggest the wonderfully engaging set of lectures on human behavior given by Ropert Sapolsky as part of the Stanford University online lectures available at iTunes U.
  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @09:14PM (#36370224)

    heartbreak and emotional torment are no different from having hot coffee spilled on your hand

    If you've seen the price of coffee at Starbucks recently, spilling some would definitely be grounds for feeling emotional trauma.

  • It's like the scientist where like "oh, sorry to hear about your breakup. You know what would make you feel better? Let me burn the shit out of your arm and study your brain. Had enough burning? Here is a picture of your ex to look at. What's that? Oh no, it only seems that she's wearing nothing but my lab coat in that picture.. your prob hallucinating form that lsd we gave you earlier."

    • by Elbereth (58257)

      Ha. I've had nightmares like what you described, but they weren't quite that bad.

      This study also makes me curious what effect emotional and neurological disorders might have on the results. Being bipolar, I've experienced quite lot of emotional turmoil in my life (some of it my own fault, admittedly), and what you describe is sometimes how my life feels. Later on, I can see my perceptions and reactions were irrational, but it always feels normal, at the time. I can be philosophical and resilient about a

  • How does this explain how masochists feel pleasure from physical pain, but do feel hurt from emotional pain.

    • The key is "nearly identical brain reactions". I have suffered tremendous emotional pain in my life and it is similar but different to physical pain. Also masochists are abnormal so there is no guarantee they process pain the same way as non-masochists.

    • I call them "Sensationalists" since they enjoy all the sensations life has to offer... Pain releases endorphins, repeated or prolonged pain can cause desensitization or numbness -- Mixed with a bit of pleasure, it's not hard to see how someone may enjoy sex + runner's high == more powerful stimuli.

      Emotional pain is part of the sadist/masochist power exchange as well. Being disrespected, dehumanized, used, and abused (emotionally) is also enjoyed by many of the same masochists. This study would actually

  • by lavagolemking (1352431) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @09:53PM (#36370412)

    Think of pain in a psychological, adaptive sense, where it's an undesirable stimulus that lessens the chance we will perform some kind of behavior again. I think that's what is being picked up by an MRI. Not the immediate reflex that causes you to pull your hand away from the glowing red thing on the stove, but the part that causes it to hurt afterward, leaving a strong memory of the situation.

    However, I did have a psychology professor last quarter tell the class you can lessen the effect of a break-up by taking pain medication. He said that most anti-inflammatory medications are believed to affect a certain part of the brain, which is incidentally the same place triggered by a break-up. He told us this right after Valentine's day, apologizing for not getting to that point in the curriculum a day sooner.

  • by painehope (580569) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:11PM (#36370512)

    But I've actually been through a lot or relationships. Everything from one-night stands to one-week stands to three-month torrid affairs to engagement to even one marriage. And I've had a lot of injuries (two shootings, about a dozen stab wounds, gone face-first through 2 windshields, caught on fire twice, etc. ; I've been in a lot of fights [including the knife fights, whether I had a knife or not...and, yes, I came out on top in all of those or I'd be dead], not all of which I won [but the majority of them I did, but when I lost, I lost pretty badly...most real fights are over in less than 10 seconds, regardless of what Hollywood would have you believe], combat, you name it).

    And while a one-night or one-week stand going bad isn't a big deal, finding out that the women that you've fallen in love with over the past 3 months to 3 years is either (a) leaving or (b) done something so off-the-reservation that you can't stand to have her around anymore, love or no love, is more painful than any injury I've ever sustained. Hell, I carried a torch for 12 years for one woman (and even got back together with her when we met up again after about 11 or those years), and it almost drove me insane when I broke up with her for the second time. Something that no amount of physical pain has ever driven me to, that experience almost did. It took me about 10 months to get to the point where I realized that everything bad I saw coming out in her (self-centered, inconsiderate, unwillingness to concede that she might be wrong no matter what evidence was stacked against her, unreasonable demands, etc.) that caused me to break up with her 12 years ago had changed from simple flaws to dominant personality traits in the intervening time. Until I realized that, I dreamed about her, wrote about her (one of my hobbies is writing), and she was never far from my thoughts (except for the rare times that I was with someone else who ensnared my heart the way she had, and none of those lasted longer than a few years).

    I would most definitely say that (and other similar events) that is far more painful to me than getting shot, stabbed, or caught on fire. Physical pain is nothing compared to the hell that one's emotions and attachments can put one through. Think about it - when torturing someone, it's often far more effective to work on their emotions and mind than it is to cause them physical injury. Ask any vet whether waiting for something bad to happen (pre-battle jitters, being in a precarious position, walking into a potential ambush) is worse than anything that happens to you when the shoe drops. Everyone I know (and I can't think of a single man in my family that I know of that hasn't served in the military at one time or another, and in every single war of the past 100 years in many cases) that's been in those situations will tell you that your mind can do worse things to you than anything else.

    • by dave562 (969951)

      Thanks for sharing. Seriously.

      Negative emotions can wreak all sorts of havoc on the body. Acupuncture can be a good adjunct to therapy, especially for long held emotions. You might consider it, if you haven't already found other ways to move on.

      • by painehope (580569)

        I once walked into an acupuncture clinic, for my back and insomnia. They told me to go to a regular doctor. I dunno...

        • by dave562 (969951)

          It is hard to find a good acupuncturist in the States. Unfortunately it is a fairly "new" treatment and is fighting an uphill battle to gain acceptance. If you were in California I could give you a couple of good recommendations.

          You can try to contact these people http://yosan.edu/ [yosan.edu] and see if they have any graduates in your area. They are the real deal.

    • by jafac (1449)

      I have no response to that, other than; been there, done that, and completely agree. I would rather be stabbed, beaten and burned, than go through what my ex put me through again.

    • by rts008 (812749)

      Ask any vet whether waiting for something bad to happen (pre-battle jitters, being in a precarious position, walking into a potential ambush) is worse than anything that happens to you when the shoe drops. Everyone I know (and I can't think of a single man in my family that I know of that hasn't served in the military at one time or another, and in every single war of the past 100 years in many cases) that's been in those situations will tell you that your mind can do worse things to you than anything else

      • by painehope (580569)

        Yeah, and to top it off that chick I had the torch for is about to get her PhD in Psychology. When we attempted to get back together after all those years, she immediately said "You're just like every other vet/prisoner/whatever I counsel - you have PTSD". I don't care what anyone calls it, I just cope. What else can I do?

  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Tuesday June 07, 2011 @10:24PM (#36370572) Homepage

    That should read "Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists Who Are Assholes".

    Reminds me of one of the opening scenes from Ghostbusters. "The effect? I'll tell you what the effect is: it's pissing me off!"

  • Read the poetry of Shakespeare, Rumi, Chaucer, Keats, Coleridge, Goethe, Wordsworth, Rilke, Tennyson, Eliot (I could go on), and the same theme arises: poets have known this for ages and have patiently waited in their graves for science to catch on. It is a very ordinary sort of knowledge, based on near-universal experience. I just think the poets do a far better job of expressing it.
  • There's a definite trend in this thread of people saying they'd prefer physical pain to emotional pain. And yet our society looks at corporal punishment like something from an alien planet. "Cruel and unusual," and all that. Caning a thief? Unimaginable. But putting him in a cage for a number of years, subjecting him to degradation and humiliation? That's CIVILIZATION, baby.

    Seems like we ought to admit that the reason we don't use physical punishment on criminals is not because of some moral imperative but

  • by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @01:01AM (#36371514) Journal

    The man has written a couple of books about the role that the mind plays in back pain. When the book first came out it was pretty revolutionary. Now the ideas are pretty widely accepted as being fairly obvious. The man has not said that ALL back pain is related to the mind. However he has laid out a very plausible hypothesis to explain how the mind uses chronic pain to distract itself from deeply repressed emotions.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      There was an interesting programmed on BBC Radio 4 a week or two ago. Sorry but I forget the name. They talked about an American study where they tried giving people placebos and actually telling them that they were not real pain killers. Despite the subjects knowing they were taking nothing but sugar pills they reported feeling less pain. The current theory is that just having the attention of a sympathetic doctor prescribing the placebos seems to have an affect.

      The difficulty with these studies is that th

      • by dave562 (969951)

        For last nearly two years at this point, I have been dealing with chronic sciatic nerve pain. I have a couple of herniated discs (L4/L5, L5/S1) that are impinging on the sciatic nerve. I was not really aware of how my emotions and overall levels of stress impacted the pain until after I read what Sarno had to say. Although there is an undeniable physical component to my pain, it definitely fluctuates based on the amount of stress I'm under.

  • Psychiatrists know, for example, that certain painkillers can be effective in treating some symptoms of emotional distress, and in lessening the pain of rejection, isolation, or loss.

    For the person who posted the WTF? response, this is an important result because it means that mechanisms for dealing with physical pain can also address some aspects of emotional pain (although as I've pointed out, it wasn't really a new result, but confirmation of something we already knew).

  • ... violence doesn't hurt.

    Compared to emotional pain, I totally agree.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @06:13AM (#36372736) Homepage Journal

    Physical pain and emotional pain are very clearly distinguishable sensations, even if they feel similar. That means that they are not using identical pathways. Because the pathway and the experience are just two sides of the same thing. Identical pathways = identical experience. Since the experiences are not at all identical, the pathways cannot be.

    There might be a lot in common. But they are not the same.

  • Stress kills.

    Common knowledge I believe...

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp

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