There's some truth to the idea that the broken-hearted may eat entire cartons of Ben & Jerry's, or that kids picked last for dodgeball may lash out at their classmates.
Experiments have shown that social rejection prompts people to make poor decisions, such as eating more than they know they should or drinking too much. Now, a study in the current issue of the journal Social Neuroscience uncovers the neural basis for such poor decision-making. Researchers report that the feeling of social exclusion changes activity in specific regions of the brain responsible for self-control.
I like this story because it ties into the whole religion/isolation debate in America. People in America, I suspect, are lonely as fuck. Married and long-term couples seem to do fine, but one breakup later and each person is on their own. With sane folks rejecting church outright, and the demise of small-community culture along with the rise of massive exurban communities where neighbors do their best not to come into contact with each other, a whole new generation of lonely - read: non-politically active - people are cropping up. And the political power vaccuum is being filled by the churches - those crazy terrorist Christian fascists.
Of course, the health affects of emotional over-eating can be and are devastating for millions of lonely, overweight/obese Americans, but one of the root causes, I would think, is our growing social isolation. Is online socializing filling the gap? No. So how do we address the situation?
We need more and better ways for people to gather - outside of a religious/fantasy context - but how? What should these new entities/organizations look like? How often do they meet? What is their purpose? What is their common bond? Can it be completely non-political? Should it be?