Stanford University scientists have found that love is a powerful painkiller; perhaps as powerful as morphine, it has been suggested.
In the study, students were administered mild pain and studied their reactions while looking at the photo of a beloved to see if the sight of their beloved distracted them from their pain.
This study was with respect to the earlier part of a romance, which suggests that the so called drug of love may wear off with time.
The researchers found that areas of the brain normally involved in pain response are also activated by amorous thoughts. This was detected by using “functional magnetic resonance imaging” (fMRI) scans to observe brain activity.
In the study, it was found that this ‘love induced analgesia’ seemed to involve primitive functions of the brain, much the same way as morphine or similar opioid painkillers.
This relationship between pain perception and one’s emotional state can be illustrated by this example – in competitive sport, a sportsman has sustained a painful injury, but being charged by the atmosphere and pumped by the desire to win, he keeps going, unmindful of his pain and discomfort.
This also explains why people who are lonely and depressed feel pain more acutely and why those who are emotionally secure and well cared for, may have higher pain thresholds.