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Taking a blow to the face and being socially rejected fires the same defence mechanism in the brain, found a new study. When someone shuns us, our brains release a natural painkiller known as opioids, in the same way it does when we experience physical pain. Also ever wondered why some people can handle pain better than others? That’s because those who are highly resilient have higher amounts of natural painkiller activation. The study involved 18 participants who were asked to view photos and fake profiles of other people and select some they might be romantically interested in. They were told that the people they were interested in had no interest in meeting them, while they were undergoing brain scans. At this point, pain-killing opioids were released in areas of the brain involved with physical pain and emotional processing. Opioids were released despite participants being aware that neither the profiles nor the rejection was real.