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Dopamine in the Pain Killing Centers!

Updated on August 1, 2013

Heart and Mind Series

The way passionate love overtakes the participant/victim; it seems so powerful. When the human species is in the throes of passionate love, it is emotional, psychological, biological, and oh yes ---- physical! When we visit the pictures of a wedding and chat about the “good old days” of a marriage or relationship, it is easy to see the ecstatic looks on people’s faces, the glowing light of contentment beams, subsumed in the powerful elixir of passion. One would say that Nature requires that it be this way at the start. The challenges that love faces declare that the Exodus from Singlehood and Youth must be mighty and powerful. In fact, the changes that Love and Life put us through over the years also predict that how we handle love and pain will determine our level of success and psychological health.

Brand New Love - Dopamine in the Pain Killing Centers.

In ScienceDaily (Oct. 13, 2010), the article shows us that in recent experiments that passion provides amazingly powerful pain relief, similar to painkillers or such drugs as cocaine, according to a new Stanford University School of Medicine study.

When people are in the all-consuming phase of love, that poetry and the movies and novels colorfully place in front of us for our consumption, and when we are truly in those states ourselves, scientists are finding that while MOOD is incredibly affected, so also is the human experience of PAIN.

“There are significant alterations in their mood, that are impacting their experience of pain," Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, declares and continues - "We're beginning to tease apart some of these reward systems in the brain and how they influence pain. These are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine -- a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward and motivation."

When you think of a young person experiencing passion, or an older person visiting passion, maybe for the first time in a long time, they are not focused on how dopamine might be relieving their pain, but they certainly can attest to the elevated, painless, glorious way they feel under dopamine and other elements that science is beginning to observe and study.

If there is anything transcendent in human love, it is that unlike the animals, we come together with a wonderful multi-colored coat of enchantment. It is this magical combination of physical attraction, belief in the unknown future and the promises of good faith and commitment that drive us into the future. Dopamine may be discovered to be the main biological player in this act; along with all the other factors that make “the train run”. When you see how long lived relationships last, you have to stand in amazement at what a powerful ignition step was involved in making decades and decades of enduring love in great unions.

Nature Gets Us Bound Up in "Amour"and Then…

The explosion of passion takes mankind’s mind off of the commitment of love, the duration of love and all those sentiments in the songs. After the big explosions of "amour", that get us intertwined, then we are forced to confront the day to day quality of loving another person in all the ways we have to. So then we think less of the drives and electronic shocks of love and we move on to words like Faithfulness and Patience. We honor these qualities because we know from aeons of loving that this means that we must bear the pain of relationships over a long period of time. As the years pass we are sure that Love has great Beauty, but we also see the Price Tag. It is pain.

First we begin to compare where there is strength and where there is weakness. Partners start to learn that “making up the difference” for weakness can come under lots of categories. One is strong in health, the other not. One is organized, hard working,compassionate, thrifty, efficient. What the couple deems to be strength and weakness means that the individuals in the couple must support, be the crutch, lift up the depression, invigorate the exhaustion and infuse with power where there is emptiness. Pain manifests itself in the struggle and the work and the concentration it takes to make a couple work. When one supplies more of the help than the other, sometimes pain can become even more intense. But time and circumstance, like smart croupiers have a way of balancing this all out. But still, there is pain in this work.

When a partner looks down on a loved one suffering with severe rheumatoid arthritis, they ponder the past, the glorious youthful past. They look toward an uncertain future. The vision of years and years of your partner’s pain, and years and years of pain as the helper, as the sympathizer, as the clinical drug assistor, as the one who will gently hold the gnarled hands and crumpled feet of their loved one. Pain looms. Pain raises its head. And both start assessing the level of hurt and how relief and sustenance will come because of love.

The last dimension of pain is when someone you love hurts you. Here the pain is more direct. The depth of love is intimacy. Intimacy demands openness. Openness creates vulnerability. Vulnerability means you can be hurt or wounded. When we are hurt, we have the grace of forgiveness to move us forward, so that we can receive healing. This is indeed pain filled, and the drama and uncertainty of a loss of intimacy is a process that still hurts, even if the final outcome is healing and restorative.

Longer term Love and Its Pain

New Babies have a way of putting pressure on and changing economics and priorities instantly! That reality is as old as the hills, and the corresponding pain is self evident. Career changes, moves, promotions, layoffs, demotions and the loss of enchantment with a line of work that was once a dreamed of reality; they all become factors in the unsettling nature of life’s pains and challenges. Love and Pain are involved in all of these.

Communication is vital in a relationship. Communication Breakdown is like a collapse. It’s pain can often be silent. It can be thwarting and openly depressing. Counseling is often the answer. And yet, counseling involves opening up and exposing the corresponding involved pain. It is very good when the couple wants to communicate. If one gives up, or feels it is worthless, that problem can be more severe.

There was a Coach who came from a Drill Instructor background. He used to say to his exhausted students.

“Yes, it hurts. Pain is there to tell you you are still alive.”

And maybe that is what Love is for too. “Love is there to tell us we still care.”

A Working Solution then is to tell yourselves that Pain and Love tell you that it is worth the Effort, because dreamed of endings for couples are worth the effort and when we sink years of emotional and psychological investment in the heart and soul of another, one looks over that time and that love and says: "Yes, this is worth the effort. Because of the pain, and because of the love, it is worth the efffort.

Since there is nothing more empty than the hollow feeling of dying alone, we should be careful to invest, in every sense of that word, in the love you have nurtured all these years. And, even if actual death is not involved, looking straight into the Countenance of Loss, it behooves us not to be impulsive or capricious or fatalistic. We must say to ourselves, once upon a time this was worth the effort. The Equity in this Love has gone up in Value, we must do what we can to preserve what is there. Once we have dealt deeply with the Love and the Pain and the potential loss of these, we can then rest in the arms of reflection and know that we did our best, and what that the pain and the love made us better people.


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    • Christofers Flow profile image

      Christofer French 5 years ago from Denver

      Thanks very much for your comment. Pain and Love, such a partnership. It is worth it though.

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      Very interesting and enlightening hub. Thank you.