Pain Relievers Reduce Empathy
The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is at the heart of the Sandra Bullock/Quinton Aaron “The Blind Side,” which is based on the true story of a remarkable young man named Michael Oher.
At 16, Michael was taken in by an empathetic family, and with their support he went from being homeless to having a successful NFL career, even winning a Super Bowl ring while playing right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.
Empathy is powerful stuff. When you can understand another person’s thoughts and feelings, from his or her point of view, you build common ground, friendship, love, and community.
But research shows that there’s been a 40% decline in empathy in America over the past 20 years. While you may point to this or that external event as the cause, it turns out there’s another source: pain relief medications.
Researchers from Ohio University have found in multiple, double-blind studies that taking acetaminophen reduces your ability to empathize with another person’s pain and pleasure.
And because 23% of U.S. adults take acetaminophen every week (it’s in 600 different medications), that adds up to a lot of less-than-generous feelings floating around.
Here’s a side effect of America’s chronic pain epidemic — around 50 million Americans are afflicted — that very few people have reckoned with.
We suggest opting for lifestyle adjustments — such as improved nutrition, better sleep, weight management, and more physical activity — to control pain.
That way, you can take fewer pain-relieving meds, and increase your public commitment to empathy.
-People Start to Heal The Moment They Are Heard-
Dr. M Williams