A Cure for Hurt Feelings

In response to concern (baseless) that the recent uncovering of the Society for the Prevention of Surgery was in some way meant to discredit the invaluable work of our anaesthetic colleagues, Professor Staghorn and the Bored of UCEM have undertaken an exhaustive search of the literature and have found a recent clinical trial that may alleviate the inadvertent emotional pain we have caused.

The trial was well-planned and was duly registered on the clinicaltrials.gov database under its title: acetaminophen for hurt feelings.  The essence of the entry is reproduced below:

The study, which is now published, involved two separate experiments which are summarised below:

In the first experiment, 62 healthy volunteers took 1 gram daily of either paracetamol or a placebo. Each evening, participants reported how much they experienced social pain using a version of the ‘Hurt Feelings Scale’ (as below).  They demonstrated that paracetamol reduced ‘hurt feelings’ significantly.

In the second experiment, 25 healthy volunteers took 2 grams daily of either paracetamol or a placebo.   After three weeks, subjects participated in a computer game rigged to create feelings of social rejection.   Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) employed during the game revealed that paracetamol reduced neural responses to social rejection.

The results speak for themselves.


  • Dewall CN, Macdonald G, Webster GD, Masten CL, Baumeister RF, Powell C, Combs D, Schurtz DR, Stillman TF, Tice DM, Eisenberger NI. Acetaminophen reduces social pain: behavioral and neural evidence. Psychol Sci. 2010 Jul;21(7):931-7. Epub 2010 Jun 14. PubMed PMID: 20548058.
  • Leary, M. R., & Springer, C. (2001). Hurt feelings: The neglected emotion. In R. M. Kowalski (Ed.), Aversive behaviors and relational transgressions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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