Recent Study - Breaking Up May Cause Physical Pain


Research done by Robert C. Coghill, an associate professor in the department of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest University School of Medicine has concluded that breaking up with a romantic partner may cause real physical pain.

The Link Between Emotional and Physical Pain

"From everyday experience, rejection seems to be one of the most painful things we experience," Smith said. "It seems the feelings of rejection can be sustained even longer than being angry." Physical pain from a break up is as real as the pain you feel when you break your arm. Memories can trigger emotional and physical pain. The next time one of your friends says, “I feel like my heart is breaking.” Chances are they are really feeling physical pain in the area of their heart of course, their heart is not actually breaking but the pain can make it feel that way.

The Study

Forty people both male and female who had recently had their hearts broken by a break up took part in the study. The researchers took pictures (scans) of the brain using functional MRI the participants were shown photos of family and friends and instructed to think about happy and positive thoughts. They were then shown pictures of their ex and told to think about the break up. When shown the photos of the exes the brain scans showed areas that are associated with both emotional and physical pain.


The study indicates that a break up can indeed cause physical pain and in some cases as much physical pain as emotional pain. More studies need to be done to determine how physical pain is possible but there is definitely a link between emotional and physical pain during a break up.



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