Trust Your Brain to Heal Your Heart

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heart, tic-tac-toe, breakup

“Tell me one last thing,” says Harry Potter to his mentor Dumbledore toward the end of the saga’s last movie. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” As opposed to millions holding their breath to see Dumbledore’s reaction, Dumbledore stays calm and turns to Harry: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

For the millennials, this scene is one of the most epic moments of the 21st century film, and yet, the significance of it is more than beautiful writing and visual effects. The words of Dumbledore bring us back to ourselves (regardless of our age and our admiration of Harry Potter) to show us that the reality lies in our brain. We have power over our own actions, especially at times when we think that we do not have any control over our feelings, such as after a breakup.

Falling in love fosters the secretion of various positive hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine, says Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist from Rutgers University. Fisher, by scanning the brains of young lovers, was able to see that some parts of the brain were significantly more active with “enamored” individuals, including parts that were associated with “reward, motivation, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

This motivation fostered more physical activity, explaining a lover’s need to talk, text, write poems, and sing all the time. Unfortunately with the breakup, the brain goes through a withdrawal of stimuli and hormones, which bring us back to the seemingly “uncontrollable” nature of a breakup.

A lot of people attest to the fact that breakups initiate a significantly challenging period in their life. Some even say that a breakup causes more physical pain than an actual damage imposed by an external object. But don’t you fret; we have good news for you! Even though ending a relationship definitely feels like your heart is malfunctioning, the science behind a breakup shows that it is all about the brain, and you can fix it.

Dr. Brian Boutwell of Saint Louis University conducted research, which revealed that the brain has a mechanism designed through natural selection that helps human beings survive emotionally challenging periods. Boutwell concluded that the brain is ready to fight against a love-withdrawal if the individual is willing to access the necessary capacity of the brain.

While the matters of the heart are always complicated, science comes to our help to dismantle some of these complications. Whether you are the one who broke up or the one who was broken up with, science points out that there is light for you at the end of the tunnel.

Though no one can tell how and when to find this light, a study discovered that people are generally over a breakup in approximately 3 months (11 weeks). It might seem like a long time for you at the moment, but surely, it means that your pain is bound to pass.

Also, another study proved that people who talked about their breakup and relationship were actually able to heal more quickly than those who did not. Maybe right now you feel like you are boring your friends with your problems; but the truth is you are doing significant good for your brain and mental health. And really, what are friends for, anyway?

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We believe that neuroscience is the next great scientific frontier, and that advances in understanding the nature of the brain, consciousness, behavior, and health will transform human life in this century.

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