Social Rejection Triggers Release of Natural Painkillers in the Brain

Posted on October 23, 2013

Being rejected by other people is no fun.

Contrary to the old ‘sticks and stones’ saying, it seems words can and do hurt, and the brain responds accordingly.

A new study from the University of Michigan Medical School has found that the body produces natural painkillers in response to social rejection, just as if it had suffered a physical injury.

In the study, social rejection was simulated in the lab. Eighteen participants were asked to look at fictional online dating profiles and choose some they were interested in.

Then, while lying in a PET scanner, they were told they’d been rejected by their potential online dates.

The scans showed that in response to the rejection, the brain sent out painkillers in the form of opioids into the spaces between neurons. This dampens down the pain signals.

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Source material from PsyBlog

Mental Health News