Saturday, October 13, 2007
Today I am the King
A broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used when a human being suffers an emotional or physical loss, to the extent that it begins to cause them physical or psychological pain.
1 Philosophical views and popular references
4 Biological extent
4.1 In animals
5 See also
6 External links
Philosophical views and popular references
For many people having a broken heart is something that may not be recognized at first, as it takes time for an emotional or physical loss to be fully acknowledged. As Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson states:
Human beings are not always aware of what they are feeling. Like animals, they may not be able to put their feelings into words. This does not mean they have no feelings. Sigmund Freud once speculated that a man could be in love with a woman for six years and not know it until many years later. Such a man, with all the goodwill in the world, could not have verbalized what he did not know. He had the feelings, but he did not know about them. It may sound like a paradox — paradoxical because when we think of a feeling, we think of something that we are consciously aware of feeling. As Freud put it in his 1915 article The Unconscious: 'It is surely of the essence of an emotion that we should be aware of it.' Yet it is beyond question that we can 'have' feelings that we do not know about.
This biblical reference highlights the issues of pain surrounding a broken heart:
Psalm 69:20 Insults have broken my heart and left me weak, I looked for sympathy but there was none; I found no one to comfort me.
In this Psalm, King David says that insults that have broken his heart, not loss or pain. It is also popular belief that rejection, major or minor, can break an individual's heart. This heartbreak can be greatly increased if rejected by a loved one or someone whom you respect.
In Shakespeare's 'King Lear' Lear dies of a broken heart, amongst other causes, in Act 5 Scene 3:
EDGAR : He faints! My Lord, My Lord!
KENT: Break heart; I prithee, break!
In many legends and fictional tales, characters die after suffering a devastating loss (see above - King Lear). But even in reality people die from what appears to be a broken heart. Broken heart syndrome is commonly blamed for the death of a person whose spouse is already deceased, but the cause is not always so clear-cut. The condition can be triggered by sudden emotional stress caused by a traumatic breakup, the death of a loved one, or even the shock of a surprise party. Broken Heart syndrome is clinically different from a heart attack because the patient have few risk factors for heart disease and were previously healthy prior to the heart muscles weakening. The recovery rates for those suffering from "broken heart syndrome" are faster than those who had heart attacks and complete recovery to the heart was achieved within two weeks.
The symptoms of a "broken heart" can manifest themselves through psychological pain but for many the effect is physical. Although the experience is regarded commonly as indescribable, the following is a list of common symptoms that occur:
A perceived tightness of the chest, similar to an anxiety attack
Stomach ache and/or loss of appetite
Partial or complete insomnia
Short/Long term paralysis
Apathy (loss of interest)
Feelings of loneliness
Feelings of hopelessness
Loss of self-respect and/or self-esteem
Medical or psychological illness (ie Depression)
Suicidal thoughts (in extreme cases)
Because "heartbreak" is a subjective emotional trauma and not a medical condition, conventional treatment does not exist. Depending on the psychological nature of an individual and the severity of the trauma, the length of time for the symptoms to disappear naturally will greatly vary. In most cases effects will last for a period of months. However, there are cases in which longer time is required to recover. In cases of limerence the average recovery time ranges from 6 to 18 months. It is claimed that the only cure for a broken heart is time, or acceptance of the loss.