Rejections are the most common psychological injury we encounter in daily life. They range in 'potency' from mild such as when friends fail to share our Facebook posts, to trulydevastating, such as being blindsided by divorce or being shunned by our families. The one thing all rejections have in common is -- they hurt! Indeed, the expression 'hurt feelings' is one we tend to associate almost exclusively with rejection, as do cultures around the world.
So, what exactly happens in our brains that makes rejections so painful?
To answer that question, scientists placed people in fMRI scans (functional MRIs show what happens in the brain when someone performs a specific task), and had them play a computerized ball-tossing game with two other people. The game was rigged such that subjects always got excluded (i.e. rejected) by the two other players after a couple of rounds of tosses.