We know that helping others can make us feel good, but now research suggests another benefit - it can ease pain. According to a new study, doing a good deed doesn’t just help the recipient, the giver feels physical pleasure and pain relief as a result.
The research tested several different scenarios of altruism - which is putting the well-being of others before our own and not expecting anything in return - and found that regions of the brain that react to painful stimulation seem to be “instantly deactivated” by the experience of giving.
- In one experiment, volunteers who gave blood after an earthquake were found to feel less pain than those who did it as part of a routine test, even though a larger needle was used.
- In another, cancer patients’ chronic pain was found to be significantly reduced when they cooked and cleaned for others at their treatment center, instead of just doing it for themselves.
- And a third experiment found participants felt less pain when they got an electric shock to their hands - if they gave money to orphans first.
Study authors say the results were so clear, they feel altruism could be used “to supplement current behavioral therapies to treat pain.”
Source:New York Post