Why do emotional responses make us feel physically ’empty’ or ‘heavy’ or anything like that on the inside?

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Why do emotional responses make us feel physically ’empty’ or ‘heavy’ or anything like that on the inside?

In: Biology

This is hard to answer. There is a saying that gets trotted out when you study science at university:

If I ask the question: “why is the water boiling?” then I can answer you with an explanation about temperatures and partial pressures and molecules vibrating. Or, an equally valid answer is, “Because I turned the kettle on.”

This is a similar question. We don’t know *why* this happens in terms of “why the kettle turns on.” There are some theories, but they’re all vague and half-formed.

But we do know physiologically why this sensation occurs. Your pain centre in your brain is used whether you feel emotional or physical pain. We’ve watched this happen with fancy brain-mapping machines.

When you feel emotional pain, your brain’s pain centre processes it. You only have one pain centre, so your brain feels the need to send out a physical pain sensation. There is no specific area that is injured, so you get that general “ache” in a very important part of you. Your heart, or your stomach are two strong contenders – places that are crucial for your survival.

We don’t really know why this happens. But we know ‘why’ it happens. How it happens. It could be that this is a way of using our bodies to cope with and process emotion.