Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Prather

Abstract

A common phrase surrounding relationships is a “painful breakup.” From an outside perspective, it doesn’t seem these people are experiencing a physical pain stimulus, but few people would disagree with the description of pain. Certain responses to both painful and emotional situations have been very similar in different individuals, and the ultimate question is, “why?” Some other examples of emotional stress include embarrassment and frustration and emotional reactions to these instances have been similar to those expressed when experiencing pain. The purpose of this research is to identify certain similarities and differences in the way the brain and body process physical pain and emotional stress. Are there physiological similarities? What is happening in the body? How are the signals in the brain similar and/or different? By looking at existing data on these subjects, this study aims to answer these questions and explain why breakups “hurt.” By evaluating the data and physiological and psychological explanations, this can help answer the question of whether or not an individual is experiencing actual pain or something else. If coping mechanisms exist, those may also be revealed on a mental health level.

Department

Zoology and Physiology

Publication Date

Spring 5-15-2016

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