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Might as well face it, you actually could be addicted to love

By Joan Firstenberg     Jul 26, 2010 in Lifestyle
New Brunswick - Why does it hurt so much to be rejected in a relationship? Researchers from several schools recently attacked the problem and found some surprising results.
Researchers have uncovered that just as people can be addicted to cocaine, they can also be addicted to love. The New York Daily News reports on the study which was conducted by the Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, the Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience at Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, the Department of Psychology and the State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY.
In an article that was originally published in the Journal of Neurophysiology it was revealed that similar parts of the brain are associated both with cravings for cocaine and romantic rejection.
Arthur Aron, professor of social and health psychology at Stony Brook University, said
"It shows that intense romantic love seems to function much like an addiction.
Understanding the neural systems involved is extremely important both for advancing our basic knowledge of intense romantic love in general and of response to rejection in particular."
The study sheds new light on why people can find it difficult to control their feelings and behaviors after they are dumped, and why such rejection can sometimes led to behaviors like stalking, homicide, suicide and severe depression.
The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brain activity of 10 women and 5 men who had recently been rejected by a partner but reported they were still intensely "in love with them".
They were all shown a picture of their former partner who they were still in love with and spent the majority of their waking hours thinking about. The subjects were then asked to complete a math problem to distract them from their romantic thoughts, and subsequently looked at a picture of a neutral person they knew but did not have strong romantic feelings toward.
The results showed that some areas of the brain were stimulated much more when the men looked at the object of their unrequited love. Researchers noted that these are the same areas triggered in cocaine addicts, and are associated with physical pain and suffering.
The study also showed that it was time, and time alone that could heal the wounds of a failed relationship. They found that as time passed, an area of the brain associated with attachment showed less activity when the participants again viewed photographs of their former partners.
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