Marriage or Morphine?

Jeremy Sharp, PhDneuroscience, research Leave a Comment

Hello, everyone. It has been quite a long time since the last post. The longest time between posts in the history of Talk Therapy, in fact. It’s been mostly positive things that have kept me from writing more: a rapidly growing practice, day trips and family visits on the weekends, and generally enjoying the fall in Colorado. But I am back, and I’ve got several blog posts in the queue for coming weeks.

Today’s post comes from an article recently released detailing the results of a Stanford study on romantic love. The study found that being in love can act as a painkiller when subjects underwent potentially painful stimulation from a “thermal probe” (yikes!). According to authors, being in love triggers the reward and pleasure centers in the brain in such a way that they can override the sensation of pain. Authors noted that individuals don’t necessarily have to be “head over heels” to get the benefits, which fits very well with other research that I’ve seen.

As a couples therapist, this article is fascinating to me. We’ve long known that being in a loving relationship is a protective factor against many of life’s physical and situational stressors, particularly for men. I recently attended a 4-day training on Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples. Presenters highlighted research from Jim Coan, a neuropsychologist at the University of Virginia, in which hand holding (i.e., human contact) also helped regulate stress and pain. I’ve posted a YouTube video here that details his work. Check it out if you’ve got a minute.

I have a feeling that this won’t be the last post on this topic, but that’s all for now. It’s great to be back in touch with writing and the blog. Look for more Talk Therapy soon!

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