People say that they ache when they have a broken heart, but can love be a drug ? A new study from Stanford (and written about online in the New York Times) shows that love can actually act like a drug. While this was a small study that only focused on fifteen individuals, I still found it very interesting, and full of promise. As this article points out, romantic love can activate the very same areas in the brain that certain drugs can, so I’m curious as to what makes love different from those drugs? Was Robert Palmer all that off base when he sung about being addicted to love?
Back to the study – looking at a picture of someone that the study participant loved eased their pain. When the participant was dealing with moderate pain, looking at their sweetheart decreased their pain by about 40% and their severe pain was decreased by 10-15%. While this was a rather small study sample, I’m curious as to how this might work with individuals dealing with chronic illnesses or chronic pain. Having someone to lean on and share difficult times with can be its own little sense of relief in a hectic world, but now there are implications that a special someone can also help with pain. Watch out, Tylenol.