Acetaminophen reduces empathy

This is really weird.

And I don’t know where they got this idea, but today’s newsletter is about a drug that is very common.

You have no doubt taken it.

And apparently, and when you take it, it radically reduces your empathy.

It makes you not care so much about your fellow man or woman.

Weird, huh?

So let’s start with what is empathy really?

It starts in the brain.

The brain has so-called “mirror neurons.”

These mirror neurons make us duplicate the emotional state of someone else.

We literally create a copy of their mental state, in our brains.

And it is thought that mirror neurons are responsible for empathy.

It’s thought that because we can duplicate a man or woman’s mental state, we feel their emotions in some way.

If they are suffering, in some way we will also suffer.

This is part of the new science.

Research is discovering what chemicals can really do to our behavior.

Now the chemical in question is acetaminophen, commonly known as the brand Tylenol.

Since you been reading my newsletters for a while, you will already know that I believe that acetaminophen is a dangerous drug.

You know that I think it should be withdrawn from the market, and eventually will not be available.

There are two things that about acetaminophen.

One is that it can easily and quickly cause kidney and liver damage.

Tylenol’s common side effects are well-known and extremely well documented.

Yet it’s still on the market — go figure.

And the other is that it has very few of the positive qualities of drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Yet people think that they’re taking aspirin when they’re actually taking acetaminophen.

So they’re getting very few of the benefits that they would get if they actually took aspirin.

So, here’s another disadvantage of acetaminophen.

This was a very clever study where researchers took both male and female subjects.

They ran some psychological tests on them to determine how much empathy they had for others.

And they determined how much something affected people — such as loud noises.

These were empathy tasks that would normally cause one person to be concerned about another.

Acetaminophen diminished their empathy by quite a lot.

I’m not sure if other drugs might do this too, but acetaminophen certainly did.

They used acetaminophen in the test because there was already a lead on its effect on neurochemistry.

A single drug, acetaminophen, affected both the experience of pain and empathy for pain suggesting a common neurochemical process underpinning these experiences.

There are other drugs that reduce empathy too.

These could undermine a relationship, and they can also cause desensitization.

For example, SSRIs, and Parkinson’s medication are two drugs that can drastically lower empathy.

And they lower it even more powerfully than acetaminophen.

These drugs both can narrow the ability to feel what other people are feeling.

They can leave you feeling isolated and at sea.

Some of these drugs show a higher level of suicides amongst those who consume them.

And the loss of empathy could be connected somehow.

One complaint that you may have if you’re taking these is that it reduces your feeling for other people.

People taking these medications have difficult in forming relationships.

It’s harder to fall in love and feel the bonds of commitment and connection when you’re taking these drugs.

I’m hoping they start to consider other drugs for study as well.

I hope they test them for their neurochemical empathy reducing qualities.

Meanwhile this should alert you to be aware of taking either vitamins, supplements, or drugs.

They can have very strange mental effects that you may not realize.

But being aware of the fact that they may be affecting your thinking and your empathy could be useful.

You may discover patterns that may make you want to go to the doctor and get a different medication.

Or you may want to discontinue this one altogether.


Matt Cook is editor-in-chief of Daily Medical Discoveries. Matt has been a full time health researcher for 26 years. ABC News interviewed Matt on sexual health issues not long ago. Matt is widely quoted on over 1,000,000 websites. He has over 300,000 daily newsletter readers. Daily Medical Discoveries finds hidden, buried or ignored medical studies through the lens of 100 years of proven science. Matt heads up the editorial team of scientists and health researchers. Each discovery is based upon primary studies from peer reviewed science sources following the Daily Medical Discoveries 7 Step Process to ensure accuracy.
From painkiller to empathy killer: acetaminophen (paracetamol) reduces empathy for pain
http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/9/1345

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