Why can emotional pain feel physical?

Monday 1st August 2011
Submitted by mstaple
MAGGIE JACKSON, LEEDS

Because it is. Our emotions are bodily functions that involve our brain, nervous system and the hormones that control heart rate, breathing, digestion, sleep and much else. Brain scans show that physical and mental pain both involve the same areas, including the anterior cingulate cortex.
Humans are social creatures who have evolved to live in groups and take relationships seriously. So when a friendship turns nasty or a lover leaves us all these emotional forces come into play.

GOT A QUESTION?

Scratching your head over a burning scientific conundrum? Submit your question and we'll get our esteemed panel of experts to answer it for you.

 

Can oil leaks come about naturally?
previous qanda Article
Does a queen bee ever sting?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria naturally present in their flesh. Once the lobster is dead, these bacteria can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by...

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

Bees, like all insects, have six sections to their legs: the coxa, trochanter, femur, tibia, metatarsus and tarsus. Each is connected by a joint and the one most like a knee is between the femur...

All of it! Every neuron in the brain is continually active, even if firing only slowly. Neurons that stop responding die. Even so, many people seem to believe that we use only part of our brain....

The powder is actually tiny scales made from modified hairs. Moths, like butterflies, belong to the order Lepidoptera, which means 'scale wing'. The scales are pigmented but they also contribute...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...