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The effects of opioid drugs further suggest that reward and pain relief have a partially shared neural basis. After all, the most powerful of these drugs, such as morphine and oxycodone 46 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND Food, sex and other natural enticements— and even the mere anticipation of such pleasures— activate the brain’s reward circuitry. In doing so, they can also produce pain relief. (OxyContin, a prescription painkiller that has been widely abused), can relieve severe pain but also unleash a “high”— leading to their addictive potential.

Because the conditions of the “prison” made them socially isolated, the guards came to experience high levels of burnout [see box on next page]. Over time these changes in group members’ social identification were reflected not only in stated levels of stress and depression but also in physiological indicators of stress — specifically, the participants’ cortisol levels. Here again is evidence that social identities and membership in social groups [become internal to] the individual, leading to changes in basic autonomic functioning.

It’s done,” I said. ” he replied. ” w w w. c o m/M in d Most people think of pain as resulting from physical injury or disease, but psychological factors play a huge role in pain perception. In the case of my elderly patient, my reassurance that the treatment would not significantly worsen his pain— because he could stop me if it did— produced an analgesic effect. In addition, reducing the man’s fear enabled him to look forward to pain relief instead, and that positive expectation also eased his pain.

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