Consider someone who has a serious injury. Example examples include losing a limb, being shot or falling from a great height. It is easy for the human mind and science to comprehend and explain why and how much pain that person would suffer.

Emotional pain originates in a relatively small part of the body, within the brain, and it isn not usually caused by physical injury.

  • How can emotional pain cause as much or even greater suffering than physical pain?
  • Why is emotional pain so difficult for many people to cope with?
  • $\begingroup$ hmmm as someone who has fallen a long way in both ways (physically and emotionally) in separate incidences, I can relate to this - I'll see what papers I can dig up. $\endgroup$
    – user3554
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ see also this Q&A cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/3239/… $\endgroup$
    – pimgeek
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


Some research that I have dug up:

According to the article "Emotional and Physical Pain Activate Similar Brain Regions" (Fogel, 2012), the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex are activated for both physical and emotional pain. Also, physical pain can lead to emotional pain as it would in the reverse direction (emotional --> physical).

This conclusion is further discussed in the articles "Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Study of Social Exclusion" (Eisenberger et al. 2007) and "Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain" (Kross et al. 2011). Even though both articles use the insidious form of bullying: social exclusion as an example, the same conclusion could be reached for proportionally greater pain of both types.

What I alluded to in my comment is true, I have fallen from a decent height, both emotionally and physically in 2 separate incidences - reflecting on what I remember of the pain I felt when I landed, it was about the same.

  • $\begingroup$ From which of those incidences of falling was it easier to heal the damage? Are emotional scars or physical scars worse? That might be a good question to ask formally. $\endgroup$
    – Randy
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Randy that is a good question, scar healing was, and is quite different. $\endgroup$
    – user3554
    Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 19:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Interesting research - one could almost say pain is one's brain simply telling them to get rid of it irregardless of what type it is. $\endgroup$
    – user3433
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 11:28

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