Social rejection, that is.
Current theorizing suggests that the brain systems that underlie social rejection developed by coopting brain circuits that support the affective component of physical pain (1, 2, 9). The current findings substantively extend these views by demonstrating that social rejection and physical pain are similar not only in that they are both distressing, they share a common representation in somatosensory brain systems as well.
Although the experience of social rejection is commonly accompanied by reports of various emotions (e.g., fear, sadness, anger, anxiety, and shame), it is generally assumed that these feelings cumulatively give rise to a unique experience of “social pain” (35–37). The results of the meta-analyses we performed in this study, which indicated that fMRI studies of specific emotions rarely activate OP1 and dpINS, are consistent with this view.
Decision making ability goes down the tubes:
Researchers have known for a long time that there is a link between social exclusion and the failure of self-control. For instance, people who are rejected in social situations often respond by abusing alcohol, expressing aggression or performing poorly at school or work.
The new study, however, is the first to use MEG to show that there are actual changes inside the brain when test subjects are manipulated to feel socially excluded. MEG is an imaging technique that measures the magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain.
Analogous to a trapped, wounded animal, no? Except in this case, being trapped means being trapped in ongoing living with intentionally inflicted and unrelieved distress.
Here’s the linkage:
“Although it has long been suggested that mu-opioids play a role in social pain — and there are convincing animal models that show this — this is the first human study to link this mu-opioid receptor gene with social sensitivity in response to rejection,” Eisenberger said.
“These findings suggest that the feeling of being given the cold shoulder by a romantic interest or not being picked for a schoolyard game of basketball may arise from the same circuits that are quieted by morphine,” said Baldwin Way, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar and the lead author on the paper.
Eisenberger argues that this overlap in the neurobiology of physical and social pain makes good sense.
“Because social connection is so important, feeling literally hurt by not having social connections may be an adaptive way to make sure we keep them,” she said. “Over the course of evolution, the social attachment system, which ensures social connection, may have actually borrowed some of the mechanisms of the pain system to maintain social connections.”
Back to the usual: the interpersonal theory of suicidality. The two conditions of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomness are met with social rejection that isn’t fully remediated. Baumeister explains that human attachment is a fundamental – essential for survival – need:
A hypothesized need to form and maintain strong, stable interpersonal relationships is evaluated in light of the empirical literature. The need is for frequent, nonaversive interactions within an ongoing relational bond. Consistent with the belongingness hypothesis, people form social attachments readily under most conditions and resist the dissolution of existing bonds. Belongingness appears to have multiple and strong effects on emotional patterns and on cognitive processes. Lack of attachments is linked to a variety of ill effects on health, adjustment, and well-being. Other evidence, such as that concerning satiation, substitution, and behavioral consequences, is likewise consistent with the hypothesized motivation. Several seeming counterexamples turned out not to disconfirm the hypothesis. Existing evidence supports the hypothesis that the need to belong is a powerful, fundamental, and extremely pervasive motivation.
Suicide becomes the means to put a permanent end on an inflicted permanent unbearable degree of suffering – real physiologic and psychologic suffering.
- Social acceptance and rejection: The sweet and the bitter (atextbookoflove.wordpress.com)
- Rewriting self-fulfilling prophecies about social rejection (mindblog.dericbownds.net)
- Social Acceptance and Rejection: The Sweet and the Bitter (sciencedaily.com)
- 3 Ways to Lift Loneliness (psychcentral.com)