Monday, December 7, 2009
Well maybe not heal it, but it can help you endure it. A new study from UCLA found that women could endure more pain when they were looking at a picture of their boyfriends than pictures of strangers or a chair. They were also more pain tolerant when holding their boyfriends hand compared to a strangers hand, or a squeeze ball. In this study heat was used to generate pain, though not to the point where any permanent damage was caused. Other studies have used cold as a pain source, and found the same thing. In a previous study, people were able to keep their hands submerged in icy water for a longer period of time when a loved one was present than when only a stranger was in the room. This was true even if the loved one was a pet. What was intriguing about this study was that a pet’s presence was more comforting than a spouse. Other evidence indicates that looking at pictures of loved ones has a measurably calming effect on the body.
Practically speaking, these studies explain why it might be a good idea to have pictures of your loved ones present when you are in stressful or potentially painful environments, whether you are going to the hospital for surgery, or just another day in a demanding job.
More broadly, these studies highlight the importance of social support in our ability to function, be healthy, and endure discomforts. They also provide a nice parallel to studies showing that people in committed relationships live longer, and report higher levels of health than single folks.
They may also explain why we don’t marry squeeze balls, random strangers or chairs.
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Posted by Ano Lobb at 3:18 AM