Hurt feelings? You could take a pain reliever.

Harv Bus Rev. 2011 Apr;89(4):28-9.


THE FINDING: Daily doses of acetaminophen alleviate hurt feelings and reduce neural activity related to the pain of social rejection.

The research: The University of Kentucky's C. Nathan DeWall asked 62 undergraduates to take 1,ooo milligrams of acetaminophen or a placebo for three weeks. Each evening they recorded how much social pain they'd felt that day. The hurt feelings of those who took acetaminophen decreased significantly over time; people who took the placebo showed no change. In a related study, functional MRIs showed that people who had taken acetaminophen also had less activity in the brain regions that respond to emotional pain. THE CHALLENGE: Aren't mental and physical pain entirely different? Can over-the-counter analgesics improve your emotional state if, say, you get fired?

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / administration & dosage
  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use*
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use*
  • Emotions / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Rejection, Psychology*


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen