Thursday, March 31, 2011


BETWEEN EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL PAIN - Rejection quite literally hurts - the experience and the memory of getting dumped by a loved one trigger brain regions linked with physical sensations of pain, scientists find.  Around the world, people for centuries have used the same language - words like “hurt” and “pain” - to describe mental suffering as well as physical suffering, leading researchers to wonder if the sensations weren’t activating the same parts of the brain.  Speculatively, it makes sense that getting your heart broken could feel like something literally breaking. During the course of human evolution, rejection from a group could leave one extraordinarily vulnerable, researcher Edward Smith, a cognitive neuroscientist at Columbia University in New York, told LiveScience, “so that might be why this link evolved between rejection and pain, to make us want to avoid rejection.”

As the brains of the 40 volunteers were scanned through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), half the time they looked at photos of their ex, and half the time they looked at photos of a friend.  The scientists found that parts of the brain linked with physical pain also lit up when individuals were remembering bad breakups.  “Rejection literally hurts,” Smith said.  The researchers are now looking at possible techniques for easing such mental suffering, including methods that therapists already use. “For instance, one piece of advice when thinking about rejection is to view experiences with an ex-partner as an outside person from a distance,” Smith said. “We want to see if this really does help at the level of the brain.”

Romantic heartbreak hurts, and researchers now have a better understanding of why.  The same regions of the brain that are activated when people experience pain in their bodies also become active when people feel rejected by someone they love.  Many stories of breakups which led to intense feelings of rejection and pain are found in Vedic literature.  After being rejected by King Salwa, Princess Amba went to the forest alone.  In her wanderings, Amba told Parashurama the events of her abduction by Bhishma and her rejection by King Salwa and requested the great sage to kill Bhisma.

Maharaja Bhishma abducted Princess Amba along with her sisters.  After receiving consent from him, Amba left the city of Hastinapura, and traveled to the province where King Salwa ruled.  She pleaded, “I have come to take shelter of your mighty arms, O brave King. Please accept me as your queen.”  King Salwa laughed to hear Amba’s request and informed her, “I no longer desire you for my queen, for you have been touched by another. It is Bhishma only who can marry you.  I cannot accept you as my queen.” Amba was aggrieved by King Salwa’s rejection and left the kingdom of Salwa, lamenting her destiny.  Amba decided to inhabit the forest and practice austerities and penances for the rest of her life.  When Amba narrated Parashurama the events, the great rishi felt sorry for the girl.  Parashurama reproved Bhishma, “O King, it is not proper for her to be humiliated in this way.”

“Mahabharata Summation” – “Adi Parva” :
Chapter four: “Bhishma Battles Parashurama”
New Vrindavana, June 3, 1985

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