Imagine a person has random psychosomatic itching and applies an ointment which brings relief. Could their brain wrongly assosiate the process that causes the itching as good as it brought relief?

As Berridge, 2020 recently showed, there's a difference between wanting and liking something and dopamine (which is said to work on the basis of operant conditioning) is rather assosiated with wanting. I wondered whether the brain can decypher when the operant conditioning creates a harmful feedback loop.

I would appreciate any literature recommendations which would bring me closer to the answer.


1 Answer 1


Professor Sweeney has expressed the hypothesis that counterfactual thoughts that follow a relief are an example of a such mechanism on the Hidden Brain podcast although it's not something she discussed in the paper which finds counterfactual thoughts to be a common aftermath of a relief. The podcast discussed an experience of a guy attacked by lions in a group and how such extreme sitations tend to be followed by euphoria and laughing that later feels chilling to the people who undergo them, making the euphoria feel like not worth the experience.


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