This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You

New study on pain and empathy.

By Colin Allen published March 1, 2003 - last reregarded on June 9, 2016


The famous catchexpression "I feel your pain" might actually organize some reality. When people view others being hurt, their brains react in a lot the same way--as if they themselves were being hurt, says a new study out of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

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Researchers measured study participants" brain activity while they watched videos of other people being hurt and also then aobtain after the subjects themselves experienced moderate pain. They discovered that equivalent locations of the brain were activated in the two situations.


The brain reacts to pain on two levels--the sensory level, which detects the form of sensation, and also the emotional level, which indicates exactly how badly the sensation feels, according to research author Sean Mackey. Macvital and his colleagues found similarities in brain activity in between subjects" personal and also empathic pain on both levels.


Fourteenager subjects participated in the experiment in the time of which they viewed videos of sporting injuries or car crashes and also then enabled researchers to apply heated blocks to their forearms. Results were reported last week in Chicback at the annual meeting of the Amerideserve to Pain Society.

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The research shows the societal prominence of empathy--the capability to recognize with others" feelings, according to the study"s authors. "Empathy has actually survival value," notes Michael Schulguy, Ph.D., supervising psychologist at Leake and Watts Services, a New York-based support facility for abused youngsters. "Feeling for others leads to cohesiveness, and cohesiveness with others has actually enabled our species to thrive."


Dr. Michael Schulguy is the author of Bringing Up a Moral Child (Doubleday, 1994).

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