Current Events #3

Talking about your pain could make it worse, scientists in Germany have claimed.

Far from being soothing, words and counselling could increase the intensity of physical pain, a study has found.

Warnings such as, “This may hurt a bit” or, “You might feel a little pain” could be counter-productive and compound feelings of discomfort.

The study discovered that certain pain-associated words, such as “tormenting” or “gruelling” stimulated the pain area of the brain, even when no pain was administered.

Talking to a doctor about your pain might therefore be self-defeating, claimed the researchers at Jena University in Germany, as it stimulated a part of the brain known as the “pain matrix.”

“It is possible that those conversations intensify the activity of the pain matrix in the brain and therefore intensify the pain experience,” said Maria Richter, one of the researchers.

The team, led by Thomas Weiss, a psychologist, found adults and children reacted with foreboding and experienced a greater intensity of pain because the words triggered a reaction in the area of the brain associated with pain.

But the response could be a survival instinct in which humans learned to avoid pain, they argued.

“After such an experience it is enough to simply imagine a needle at the next vaccination appointment to activate our pain memory,” Weiss said. “Even verbal stimuli lead to reactions in certain areas of the brain.”

The professor found that hearing words such as “tormenting,” “gruelling” or “plaguing,” activated the exact areas in the brain that deal with pain.

The researchers, from Jena university’s department of biological and clinical psychology, used magnetic resonance imaging techniques to investigate how individuals processed words associated with experiencing pain.

To prevent reactions based on a plain negative effect the subjects were also confronted with words with negative connotations such as “terrifying,” “horrible” or “disgusting” besides the pain words. Such words did not have the same effect.

The scientists said that patients suffering chronic pain were often asked to describe what they felt. Their research suggested that such requests could make a patient’s suffering worse.

“Our results suggest that verbal stimuli have a more important meaning than we have thought so far,” Weiss said.

Through research, studies have shown that when your told about pain, or you put it into words, it can make the initial pain even worse. For example, if your getting a piercing, and the piercer tells you ” this will hurt a bit” you’re likely to feel twice the pain. I chose this article because many people say pain is mind over matter, and i think this article just proves that point a little more. It was also discovered in further research, certain words such as ” gruelling ” triggered the pain part of the brain. From personal experience, when someone tells me that a certain thing, will hurt or will involve pain, I immediatly strain myself, and prepare myself for a whole lot of pain, when it infact, usually ends up being a minimal amount. I chose this article simply because I was always curious as to whether it was mind over matter when it comes to any form of pain, and I think this gave me a little insight into what actually happens in that part of your brain .

One thought on “Current Events #3

  1. 18/25

    Three separate paragraphs. Not as much analysis as is needed. No links or images.

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