Holidays are a mixed bag; typically a combination of joy and pain. Some time ago brain researchers identified regions in the brain that appear to register physical pain. More recently, scientists have been studying social pain and its fingerprint in the brain. There are many different types of social pain, such as: being the recipient of bullying behaviors; illness or death of someone you care about deeply; a romantic break-up or a relational breach between you and someone you thought was a good friend; rejection due to gender, race, culture, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation; a sense of not fitting in for any number of reasons; separation due to serving in the armed forces, being excluded from social activities or connections you wanted to experience; and the distress of separation exhibited and experienced by the young (children as well as animals). No doubt you can think of other examples. Researchers have concluded from the study results that social pain activates similar brain circuits whether you are suffering the emotional pain personally or experiencing the pain as an empathetic response to another person's social pain. More tomorrow.