A new study shows that social pain (e.g., being rejected or excluded) activates some brain circuits of physical pain.
The study was conducted at the International School for Advanced Studies and was one of the more realistic simulations of social rejection. In one version, a subject took part in a ball tossing game and was deliberately excluded by the others (that brings back memories of PE...).
As reported in Science Daily, one of the researchers said, ""Our data have shown that in conditions of social pain there is activation of an area traditionally associated with the sensory processing of physical pain, the posterior insular cortex."
Interestingly, the same effect occurred when watching someone else with whom the subject had been partnered being subjected to exclusion. It would be fascinating to find out whether a writer experiences this effect when putting his or her protagonist through painful experiences.
What the study suggests is that when artists and authors and others talk about the pain of having their work rejected it's more than a metaphor.
This is bolstered by an older study: ." ..findings suggest that at least temporary mitigation of social pain-related distress may be achieved by means of an over-the-counter painkiller that is normally used for physical aches and pains." The painkiller in question is acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol). However, long-term use of acetaminophen has been linked to liver damage, so beware.
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