Tuesday, December 30, 2014. I have encountered an unusual research report in my current studies:
Nathan DeWall, Geoff MacDonald, Gregory D. Webster, Carrie L. Masten, Roy F. Baumeister, Caitlin Powell, David, Combs, David R. Schurtz, Tyler F. Stillman, Dianne M. Tice and Naomi I. Eisenberger
Psychological Science, 21(7) 931–937 © The Author(s) 2010
Reprints and permission:sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0956797610374741
Pain, whether caused by physical injury or social rejection, is an inevitable part of life. These two types of pain—physical and social—may rely on some of the same behavioral and neural mechanisms that register pain-related affect. To the extent that these pain processes overlap, acetaminophen, a physical pain suppressant that acts through central (rather than peripheral) neural mechanisms, may also reduce behavioral and neural responses to social rejection. In two experiments, participants took acetaminophen or placebo daily for 3 weeks. Doses of acetaminophen reduced reports of social pain on a daily basis (Experiment 1). We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure participants’ brain activity (Experiment 2), and found that acetaminophen reduced neural responses to social rejection in brain regions previously associated with distress caused by social pain and the affective component of physical pain (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula). Thus, acetaminophen reduces behavioral and neural responses associated with the pain of social rejection, demonstrating substantial overlap between social and physical pain.
These authors are NOT KIDDING! TYLENOL helps ease the pain of social isolation, loss, grief….. The pain of attachment trauma? This very interesting article is worth a read. I couldn’t believe it!
So, I tried this solution tonight. I wanted to attend a small gathering tonight with people I know, but nothing I do anymore that involves other people is easy or not stressful for me. So I took my 1000 mg dosage of Acetaminophen before I left and I made it through the whole gathering without escalating anxiety. Very interesting. I would NEVER have thought of this as being any kind of solution for my anxiety related to my insecure attachment disorder and other trauma related difficulties.
The authors state:
Social exclusion is a common part of life, which underscores the implications of our findings. People can feel ostracized at work, snubbed by friends, or excluded by close partners. For some, social exclusion is an inescapable and frequent experience (Williams, 2001). Our findings suggest that an over-the-counter painkiller normally used to relieve physical aches and pains can also at least temporarily mitigate social-pain-related distress.
Furthermore, many studies have shown that being rejected can trigger aggressive and antisocial behavior, which could lead to further complications in social life (DeWall, Twenge, Gitter, & Baumeister, 2009; Warburton, Williams, & Cairns, 2006). If acetaminophen reduces the distress of rejection, the behavioral consequences of rejection, such as antisocial behavior, may be reduced as well. Indeed, our fMRI results showed that acetaminophen diminished reactivity in the dACC and amygdala, brain regions that have been linked to aggression (Denson, Pedersen, Ronquillo, & Nandy, 2009; Eisenberger, Way, Taylor, Welch, & Lieberman, 2007). It would therefore be worthwhile to explore whether acetaminophen reduces the aggressive consequences of social rejection. Our findings do not warrant the widespread use of acetaminophen to cope with all personal problems. Future research is needed to verify the potential benefits of acetaminophen in reducing emotional and antisocial responses to social rejection.
The current investigation provides novel insight into the close relationship between social and physical pain, by exploring one surprising consequence of the hypothesis that physical and social pain rely on shared neurobiological substrates. We have shown for the first time that acetaminophen, an over-the-counter medication commonly used to reduce physical pain, also reduces the pain of social rejection, at both neural and behavioral levels.
I think there’s more to THIS story than has been written yet!
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