Pain and “Affluenza”

Want to know something interesting?  I bet you do.  Today in my Social Psychology class (and also a few semesters ago in my Sensation and Perception class), we talked about how our brains process pain.  We weren’t talking about physical pain but, rather, emotional pain.  People often talk about our emotions in a physical context, e.g. “she hurt me”, “he broke my heart”, etc.  Surprisingly, the way we process emotional pain has a great overlap with the way we process physical pain.  For instance, fMRIs show parietal lobe activity when a person is feeling dejected or ostracized.  This part of the brain is located within the somatosensory cortex, where physical pain is processed.  Here we have a crossover in emotional and physical pain processing.  So, when someone is going through emotional trauma, you should be aware that they are feeling real pain, albeit emotional.  You can read some more about this process here:

Something else I wanted to bring up today is the “affluenza” case that has been going on in Texas.  If you need filling in, I’ll try my best without getting too mad and throwing my laptop.  Recently, a 16 year old boy, Ethan Crouch, killed 4 people and severely injured two others while he was driving with a BAC that far exceeded the legal limit for an adult.  Crouch’s defense attorneys plead, what they are calling, “affluenza”.  This means that, due to Crouch’s exceedingly wealthy, extravagant life, his parents never instilled a sense of personal responsibility into him.  Because Crouch is so affluent and pampered, he was unconscious to the dangers of his actions.  I hope this sounds as ridiculous to you as it does to me.  Here’s the grand finale: the judge that was presiding over this case gave Crouch no jail time.  This kid killed 4 people, and severely injured two (one of whom can only communicate through blinking), and he is only receiving a rehab sentence and ten years of probation.  This politics surrounding this case is disgusting.  Here we have a wealthy, white boy literally getting away with murder while people are getting much harsher sentences all over the United States for things like marijuana possession.  Here is a CNN article regarding the case, if you’d like to read it:

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