After controlling for age, sex, race, economic status, physical health status, stressful life events, and cigarette smoking, researchers still found that those who perceived their social support to be impaired had a 340% higher rate of premature deaths than those who felt their social support was good.
This neuroscience finding requires that we stop bifurcating pain into physical and emotional and start realizing that pain is pain and that social exclusion and marginalization are forms of violence that impact individuals and whole groups of people.
We live in a culture that actively undermines this precious dopamine-relationship connection. We raise children to stand on their own two feet while the separate self is an American icon of maturity. It is making us sick.
How do “well-meaning white people” escape the pain of oppression and violence? There are so many ways – we can distract ourselves with a trip to the mall or a few hours of on-line shopping. Ding – the dopamine reward system is activated and we feel lighter, better and even safer.
Connection and cooperation are part of the everyday lives of most people and a strong mirror neuron system is essential in each and every one of life’s negotiations. It is high time that we add the fourth “R” to the basic skills taught in education—reading, ‘riting, ’rithmetic, and resonance!