Love hurts, and it’s not really just a saying for the broken hearted. Heartbreak actually is a very strange distress. It is painful, although we cannot find an injury on our body. New research shows that when one remembers a past heartbreak, the brain triggers sensations that one feel in times of “real” physical pain, making heartbreak truly physically painful aside from the emotional distress it causes.
The study analyzed 40 people from New York City, all of whom felt “intensely rejected”. While the participants were asked to look at some photos, including photos of their friends (they were directed to think positive thoughts about them), and photos of their exes (they were directed to think about their breakup), their brains were scanned for changes in the activity. The participants also underwent brain scans as they experienced pain on their forearms somewhat similar to the feeling of holding a hot cup of coffee in comparison.