In Terrible Pain? Then Head to an Art Museum!

By Boonsri Dickinson
Sep 22, 2008 11:56 PMNov 5, 2019 5:20 AM


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Pharmaceutical companies, make room for this news: Art can be used as a painkiller too. As research shows, music helps ease emotional pain, and at the very least, it helps us relax. In a recent Italian study, researchers found that visual art can help ease physical pain. Researchers in Italy asked twelve men and women to judge 300 pieces of art, and rate it as ugly or beautiful. While the participants judged the art’s aesthetics, the researchers zapped them with a laser pulse. To measure the subjects’ response to pain, the researchers hooked up electrodes to their brains. The results? When the subjects looked at what they thought were beautiful paintings, they responded less to the pain. When questioned after the test, the participants consistently said that the laser pulse was more painful when they thought the paintings they were looking at were ugly. Because pain can’t be quantified in a test, many people who are suffering from chronic pain are also expressing themselves through art. Here are a few examples of what pain looks like.

Credit: flickr/ azarius

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