An article in the Globe and Mail this week pointed out research on the brain that indicated that if your heart was broken, metaphorically speaking, you showed the same response in your brain as when you have physical pain. They suggested Tylenol for the pain of heartache following a tragic romance. Interestingly, the research also showed that your response to having something hot held against your hand could predict your reaction to a social snub.
Well, as someone who passed a kidney stone in the middle of the night with naught but a few confused writhings (I know, TMI), does this mean I am destined to be an unfeeling slob in matters of the heart? Perhaps that old cingulate is just numb from stem to stern.
Maybe this explains why I can be so completely inappropriate in social situations and not notice the scornful looks of my peers, or care about them except as something to capture for my next description of same? Does this explain my ability to take my dog out for walks while unwashed, dressed in mismatching mittens and a hat from the Salvation Army (not a one-size-fits-all baseball cap, thankfully – things haven’t slid THAT far)?
And does this explain my lack of compassionate responses to my kids, who, when they complained about a sore hand, were offered surgery to cut the offending part off? Could you guess I was a nurse? Able to hide my compassion while I get the task done? (Or maybe more like Nurse Ratchet, secretly enjoying the pain of others?)
And perhaps it explains the absolute effectiveness of a glass of red wine to deal with sadness and all that. A little mental anesthesia and the thoughts of loneliness or sadness vanish. Although it works much better with some good chocolate as well…
In the article, it was reported that researchers found that an acetaminophen tablet helped reduce the feeling of social hurt.
“Compared to individuals given a placebo, those given daily acetaminophen reported fewer hurt feelings over a period of three weeks. The researchers also examined brain scans of individuals experiencing social rejection and found that those taking acetaminophen showed reduced activity in the regions of the brain associated with pain’s unpleasant aspects.”
Valentine’s Day is coming. After my grade 8 experience where I gave my favourite boys valentines only to find them having a little party later stomping on them in the school hallway (ouch), I’m thinking maybe I should go out and get a bottle of extra strength Tylenol. Even if that cingulate is a wee bit numb, there’s no point in taking chances….