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Research explores links between physical and emotional pain relief
Date:3/21/2013

Though we all desire relief -- from stress, work, or pain -- little is known about the specific emotions underlying relief. New research from the Association for Psychological Science explores the psychological mechanisms associated with relief that occurs after the removal of pain, also known as pain offset relief.

This new research shows that healthy individuals and individuals with a history of self-harm display similar levels of relief when pain is removed, which suggests that pain offset relief may be a natural mechanism that helps us to regulate our emotions.

Feeling Worse to Feel Better: Pain-Offset Relief Simultaneously Stimulates Positive Affect and Reduces Negative Affect
Joseph Franklin, Kent Lee, Eleanor Hanna, and Mitchell Prinstein

Research shows that feeling pain leads to negative emotions, but less is known about the relief that occurs when pain is removed. Is pain offset associated with positive emotions, or simply the alleviation of negative emotions?

Franklin and colleagues used recording electrodes to measure participants' negative emotions (eyeblink startle response) and positive emotions (muscle activity behind the ear) in response to loud noises; sometimes the loud noise was presented alone and other times it was presented 3.5, 6, or 14 seconds after receiving a low- or high-intensity shock.

Participants showed increased positive emotions and decreased negative emotions after pain offset. The greatest increases in positive emotion tended to occur soon after high-intensity shocks, whereas the greatest decreases in negative emotions tended to occur soon after low-intensity shocks.

These findings shed light on the emotional nature of pain offset relief, and could provide i
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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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