Scientists Prove Breakups Cause Actual Pain

Illustration for article titled Scientists Prove Breakups Cause Actual Pain

Apparently scientists have never heard a single pop song, because they decided it was necessary to test whether or not love really does hurt. According to LiveScience, previous studies had actually found no link between rejection and pain. Yet, many languages have used words like "hurt" and "pain" to describe both physical and mental anguish.


Neuroscientists at Columbia University found that previous research had focused on general rejection, like being excluded from a game or hearing that a stranger doesn't like you. To study stronger emotions, the researchers advertised for subjects who had been dumped in the past six months. From LiveScience:

As the brains of the 40 volunteers were scanned through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), half the time they looked at photos of their ex, and half the time they looked at photos of a friend. During both situations, participants were asked to focus on experiences they shared with the people in the pictures.

For comparison to their response to physical discomfort, the participants also had probes placed on their forearms that could get painfully hot.

The probably enjoyed this experiment just as much as the guy Peter Venkman repeatedly shocks in the first scene of Ghostbusters. After numerous painful hot probes, the scientists concluded that the parts of the brain linked to physical pain also light up when people remember breakups. They hope to use this information to develop new techniques for easing mental suffering since so far, the only known cure for breakup-related pain is listening to Fiona Apple's When the Pawn... on repeat. (Note: This may only work if you're 14 and the year is 1999.)

Romantic Breakups Cause Real Pain [LiveScience]

Image via Artsem Martysiuk/Shutterstock.



Noted researcher Joan Jett is a pioneer in this field.