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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Love hurts

300 dpi 4 col x 12.25 in / 196×311 mm / 667×1058 pixels Michelle Kumata color illustration of concerned parents looking on at a child’s flaming hair. The Seattle Times 2006

KEYWORDS: teen brain flame flaming firey fire hair color dyeing dye smoking smoke development redhead teenage adolescent adolescence student learning education growth girl girls family puberty krtfeatures features krthealthmed krtnational national krtworld world counseling krtfamily family krthealth health krtkidhealth kid krtmentalhealth mental health therapy krt aspecto aspectos familia adolescente muchacha nina hija fuego cerebro educacion pelo roja illustration ilustracion grabado se contributor coddington kumata 2006 krt2006

It’s true what they say, love hurts. But does it burn?

According to a study done at the University of Michigan, researchers have found the brain networks that are fired when you suddenly get burned are the same brain networks that are activated when you think of someone who has dumped you.  

“”These findings are interesting because the emotional pain of social rejection was represented in an area of the brain that detects the physical sensation,”” said David Sbarra, an assistant professor at the UA and director of clinical training for the department of psychology.   

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted by having individuals who had recently been dumped by a significant other in the last six months undergo two MRI scans.

In the first scan, participants were asked to hold a cup of hot coffee in their hands with no sleeve on the container. In the second scan, participants were asked to look at photos of an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend and recall memories of them. Both tests measured blood flow and showed similar brain activity occurring in the same areas.

“”I guess this puts a whole new perspective on getting burned,”” said Robert Pitroff, a freshman anthropology major. Though Pitroff has never been dumped himself, he understands that breakups can be hurtful. “”I never thought physical and emotional pain could be considered one in the same.””

This type of finding doesn’t surprise Philip Gibeau, a counselor for the Counseling and Psychological Services at Campus Health Service. Gibeau, known better by students as “”Dr. Phil,”” sees a number of patients around this time of year who are experiencing emotional distress due to breakups.

“”At this time of year, we are seeing an awful lot of people breaking up with each other,”” Gibeau said. “”Some face to face, some via Facebook, some texting. It’s all about how comfortable they feel with the breakup process.””

The first way to address a person’s emotional state after a breakup is to identify the cause of the split, taking into consideration the person’s needs or feelings and construct a tentative solution to stabilize the problem, according to Gibeau.

Betheny King, a psychology senior, has been both a dumper and a dumpee.

“”Like touching a hot stove, you know not to touch it anymore cause that hurts,”” King said. “”The same kind of thing happens when you get dumped. You see that person’s face and you get that horrible feeling, so you think you shouldn’t talk to them any more.””

Because the same parts of the brain that detect physical pain also detect emotional pain, people who are experiencing emotional distress are also in physical pain, according to this study.

“”To say that the emotional experience hurts is not just metaphorical anymore.”” Sbarra said.  

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