In Pain? Look at a Picture of Your Lover

Study shows photos can help ease discomfort
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2011 12:23 PM CST
A new study shows that looking at pictures of loved ones can ease pain.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – In pain? Don’t reach for the Tylenol—reach for the picture of your significant other. Researchers at Stanford University found that looking at the image of a romantic partner reduces pain by between 36% and 44%--or about as much as narcotics like cocaine, the Daily Mail reports. Even “intense discomfort” can be eased by up to 13% by looking at photos of partners.

Students’ brains were subjected to MRI scans while they experienced varying levels of pain via heat applied to their skin, and researchers found that focusing on a photograph of a loved one dulled activity in the area of the brain that processes pain. One scholar calls it “love-induced analgesia,” and says it activates “deep structures that may block pain at a spinal level.” A separate, similar study showed that women who were subjected to pain while holding the hand of a romantic partner experienced less discomfort than those holding the hand of a stranger.

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