Passions triggered by the early flushes of a relationship block physical pain in a similar way to painkillers and drugs. Scientists in the US tested the theory on a group of male and female university students who were in the passionate early stages of a love affair. They were shown photos of their partners while a computer-controlled heat probe placed in the palms of their hands delivered mild doses of pain, reports The Telegraph. At the same time, the students had their brains scanned by a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.
The study showed that feelings of love, triggered by seeing a photo of one’s beloved, acted as a powerful pain killer.
Focusing on a photo of an attractive acquaintance rather than a relationship partner did not have the same benefit.
The scans revealed that the effects of love could be compared with those of morphine and cocaine, both of which target the brain’s “reward centres”.
Sean Mackey, study leader at Stanford University Medical Centre in California, said: “When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain.