Neuroscience On The Feeling of Unrequited Love & Rejection

I know how painful unrequited love can be – and so do you, probably, if you’ve found this website. And now scientists do know it too.

They did an amazing experiment, where they looked into the brains of people who were broken hearted. (When I say looked into, I don’t mean actually cut open their brains and look inside, but they watched their brain activity using technology).

And they found that heartbreak actually causes physical pain – your brain can trigger the same sensation that real, physical pain can cause. It’s not surprising to me, I did feel this pain, but it’s nonetheless fascinating.

“This tells us how serious rejection can be sometimes. When people are saying ‘I really feel in pain about this breakup,’ you don’t want to trivialize it and dismiss it by saying ‘It’s all in your mind.’ Our ultimate goal is to see what kind of therapeutic approach might be useful in relieving the pain of rejection. From everyday experience, rejection seems to be one of the most painful things we experience. It seems the feelings of rejection can be sustained even longer than being angry.”

These are the words of a scientists, Edward E. Smith, director of cognitive neuroscience at Columbia University. And I find it comforting, that he, as a neuroscientist, says that people should not trivialize broken hearted people’s heartache. Because that is still what I hear from many people who go through this and whose friends and family members don’t seem to understand their agony.