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Study: Getting your heart broken actually causes physical pain

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MRI scan

Remember how much undergrad psych studies resemble medieval torture? In a Columbia University study published yesterday, college kids who'd been dumped in a last six months were asked to look at pictures of their exes (mixed in with some photos of good friends as a control) and imagine time they'd spent together. Then, if that wasnt painful enough, researches also put "painfully hot" probes on their forearms to see how it compared. And, unless this has changed since I was an undergrad, they were given enough money for a subpar happy hour for their troubles. 

But, I digress. The study found that the pain of heartbreak is actually akin to physical pain on a neurological level. It's no coinicidence that a high percentage of world languages use the same word for corporal discomfort and for heartache and emotional pain. It fact, it's this overlap that prompted the study to begin with. Previous studies have found a similar correlation for feelings of social rejection and for being excluded by a group. 

According to LiveScience.com:

The researchers are now looking at possible techniques for easing such mental suffering, including methods that therapists already use. "For instance, one piece of advice when thinking about rejection is to view experiences with an ex-partner as an outside person from a distance," Smith said. "We want to see if this really does help at the level of the brain."

Until they finalize that process, we'll have to rely on less scientific remedies, like sitting moodily on the fire escape and sighing mournfully at sunsets.