Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Never Get Dumped OR Dump Coffee on Yourself


While Stella Liebeck was certainly not the first to discover it, she remains the most famous (or notorious, if you work for McDonald's). Back in 1992, Liebeck had the misfortune to dump a very hot cup of coffee in her lap at a McDonald's drive-thru, burning herself in places better left to the imagination. At any rate, a lawsuit followed, and now we have those tiny warning that tell us that this coffee, indeed, is very hot, though maybe not to the degree recommended by McDonald's in 1992 (between 180-190 degrees F). Of course, at that temperature, one can suffer a third degree burn in between 2-7 seconds; when it soaks into cotton sweatpants as it did in Liebeck's case, well, let's just say it was there for longer than it takes to be considered a successful bullrider. But that's not really my point. (yes, there IS one.)
Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by Dr. Ethan Kross, assistant professor of psychology, have just discovered a credible link between the brain activity that occurs in situations of physical pain and the kind of brain activity that occurs after an incident of intense emotional distress! Their basic theory, yet to be proven, was that intense emotional pain can be a precursor to physical pain. Here's what they did:
The researchers selected 21 women and 19 men, all of whom suffered no chronic pain or mental illness, and all of whom had been dumped by a significant other within the last six months. While examining brain reaction with an MRI, the subjects were confronted with two separate situations:
1. A heat source was strapped to an arm that gave off a similar amount of heat as holding a cup of coffee without a sleeve on the cup.
2. Being shown a picture of the ex and asked to remember things the two of them had done together. (are you kidding? Would YOU volunteer for such a thing? There had better have been some money changing hands for this one)

The reaction to both situations was the same: two separate brain areas were affected: the secondary somatosensory cortex and the dorsal posterior insula lit up like the Griswold's house at Christmas.
Voila! Something of a link has been established, and now the researchers are wondering whether treating physical pain will help ease emotional pain and vice versa.
Maybe, maybe not, but it won't get coffee stains out of sweatpants, and it won't "wash that man right out of my hair" anytime soon!


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