According to a March 2 article from The Associated Press, a new study by the University of Michigan shows that psychological or social events can affect the regions of the brain associated with physical pain. This means that one can literally feel physical pain from non-physical events, like breakups.
These results are just another step to helping people who experience emotional distress. Now there is scientific backing to the claims of a physical sensation resulting from a purely emotional event.
The study used 40 volunteers who had experienced an unwanted breakup in the past six months and who claimed to feel intensely rejected from the breakup. The volunteers then underwent a functional MRI where they were put through a series of tests.
In the tests they had to experience a variety of sensations: View a picture of their ex-partner and think about the breakup, view a picture of a friend and think of a positive experience they had with that friend, have a kind of heating pad with a comforting warmth on their arm and use the same heating pad that was hot to the point of pain but not physical damage.
The results found that the same areas of the brain that were stimulated when the volunteers thought about their ex-partner and experienced the painful heating pad were the same.
Another aspect of these results is the justification for healthy and selfless relationships. A rule in elementary classrooms is the golden rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You should never leave people in such a state that they are beyond repair.
Breakups are never easy. This is not to say if someone is in an abusive relationship that he or she should stay — dating violence is never acceptable. Instead, people should look to better their partners and to be as supportive as possible until the end.
Breakups don’t have to be dramatic occasions. Maturity on the part of both individuals can minimize the amount of emotional stress as long as it is dealt with care and sensitivity. If people can’t handle themselves in an adult manner, then they don’t need to be in a relationship anyway.
In the end, though, the people doing the breaking up must think about what is best for them. While it may be painful, it is emotionally unhealthy to stay with someone else simply to make that person happy.
There is physical pain with emotional trauma. This fact makes it necessary for us to learn how to treat one another with love and respect, no matter the situation.
Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.