Your Friends Are More Important Than You Think

Posted on July 4, 2013

Indeed, psychological science has known for quite some time that we define ourselves-that is, we come to know who we are as a person-through our closest relationships. When the relationships go, so goes a very part of our existence. After a divorce, for example, one of the biggest challenges people face is finding a way to revise their self-concept. I discuss this problem in a recent TEDx talk I gave here in Tucson-you might be interested in checking this out to learn about the best ways to go about "putting ourselves together" after these difficult experiences.

One of the reasons these events can hurt so immensely is that in real relationships-unlike the ones with TV characters that exist only in our minds- losing a friend or lover means we lose an important source of support and understanding. Being understood and having a close other sense, know and feel our experience is the hallmark of empathy. The ability to empathize with another person is among the most critical of all our human capabilities.

New research from the University of Virginia suggests that not only is empathy hardwired in our brains, but also that our brains process information about ourselves and our friends in a very similar way. In this study, led by neuroscientist Jim Coan and his colleagues, 22 young adults, an opposite sex friend and study personnel (so-called strangers) were subjected to the threat of electric shock while the participants' brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

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Category(s):Social Isolation

Source material from Yahoo