I saw this article in Psychology Today and thought, “I already read and wrote about this.” Actually, I hadn’t. It was something close – how physical pain and emotional pain following social rejection are similar. In fact, so similar are they, that in the study carried out, an over-the-counter analgesic like Motrin (meant to solve physical pain, obv) also served to mitigate painful emotional responses in chicks.
As a yes-and to that article, what the blurb above indicates is that they’re also similar in the way we “dread” something unpleasant. It’s like the way we tense up when we expect to get backhanded or punched in the ovaries (actually, tightening the abs is best in that case – they make a nice wall versus a fist). Similarly, fear of rejection in a social situation reportedly predicted the intensity level of distress as well when the bad thing came to pass – as shown by interactions when chicks were wallflowered during a virtual reality social setup.
Now, this is a good example of a study that means well, but has a few flaws.
I’m gonna start calling my response to these kinds of articles “cafeteresearch conclusions” – because I have to carefully pick which results I don’t think the lab’s lunch lady undercooked before eating it with my brain. The largest flaw with either of these studies, however, is one that’s explained in a another blurb a couple pages back.
It’s that one which is difficult to see or measure and thus missing from the experimental setup. And that’s how our in-person emotions affect one another differently IRL than when we’re communicating through a technological medium – be it VR or iphone. I’d just read in this same magazine two seconds before (image above) about how we can smell each other’s fear by the chemicals we put off from one another. It’s an evolutionary benefit that I suppose combines with that whole stop-motion-detection we have (like when deer freeze in the woods and assume the cessation of their buddies grazing as a threat being nearby). I suppose these unscented pheromones are a healthy evolutionary response so that the whole flock will start running when Tyrannosaurus Manager comes charging into the office and telling you you’re ALL rejected.
From your current jobs.
So, if our chemicals are contagious, who’s to say that whatever hormones or chemicals we give off during a time opposite of rejection – like when being accepted or liked or someone laughing at my obviously hilarious jokes (hormones like the “cuddle” one called oxytocin) aren’t also just as detectable? And valuable within the parameters of an experiment?
Just because we can’t see the complicated communicative perfumes that pass ‘tween us sans our permission like furtive lovers defying their parents, doesn’t mean we can dismiss it as a variable. If they’re important enough to cause a domino effect when it comes to things like fear and subsequent pain between folk, how can a virtual reality game possibly account for these rapid fire non-verbal inter-communications?
That’s where the magic happens!
We need these gassy bags of blood and bone interacting in the flesh!
This sets off a whole cascade of Keanu meme level “what if…” in my mind:
Like, if physical and emotional pain are that similar – then could our social fears preceding an ick-situation amplify the chemicals we give off when we finally perceive the “sting” of rejection? And then be teleported (since that’s what fear hormones do and we’re suddenly afraid of getting the sting again) to those around us? Then (since we’ve established how physical and emotional pain are similar), they register in an ouchy or at least shoulder-tensing way for them too? Is there a science to Eckhart Tolle’s contagious “pain-body”? Do I have a stratified cloud of hormones hanging over my body like a fog on the San Francisco bay – with no horn to warn any of us when my Negative Nancyism is about to atom bomb the room’s vibe?
The idea, I suppose, is that if you’re already on a post gym-high and totes not expecting an emotional cannibal to come charging into the room, you’re not “dreading” it and thus you’re less primed to receive my pessimistic mist. And THAT begs the final bit (promise) of my Keanu musings – once we get these chemicals going, can we set ourselves off into a cycle of masturbatory morosity? I mean, I’m a person and I’m right here and clearly I’m primed for negativity if I’m the bish giving it off, right? So can we wordlessly Eeyor ourselves to rock bottom by getting high on hopelessness after breathing in our own fear-fumes like it’s an EXIT bag?
(Girrrl, you’d better try to kick that pathos crack habit).
This is starting to explain a lot of things.
Like the specific nature of that “childhood home smell” I wrote about this week.
I think I know exactly what that is now…