What if I told you that a well-known pain reliever which we all use when we have a fever or a headache also kills our ability to be empathic?

Empathy as we know it is the ability to place oneself in another person’s position so as to understand and/or feel what one is going through.

This encompasses different types of emotional states such as having the need to help those suffering as a result of too much care for them and in other circumstances, actually feeling emotions that reflect those of the other person. Now, did you know that certain painkillers might have an impact on empathy?

Well, just recently research done found that Acetaminophen reduces peoples empathy for the pain of others. Acetaminophen also is known as Tylenol is a pain reliever used to treat fevers and take the edge off nasty headaches. The interesting thing about this ingredient is that it also gets rid of the “fellow-feeling” or empathy if you may like to call it.

A study done by Dr. Dominic Mischowiski, who is the study’s first author, revealed that once an individual has taken Acetaminophen, he/she experiences less empathy towards those in pain.

As part of the study, blind experiments were conducted on some college students where some were given Acetaminophen and the other placebo. To fully get the effect of the drug, the participants were tasked with listening to stories of painful experiences that people had gone through.

The stories involved those of physical pain such as accidents and social pain such as bullying. They were asked to rate their empathy for the incidents they listened to.

The results were unbelievable; those who had taken Acetaminophen consistently gave lower pain ratings compared to those who had taken a placebo. Their empathy was decreased especially for the pain of those people whose stories they were told.

Dr. Baldwin Way, a study co-author, raised his concern about the effects of this pain reliever with an argument that empathy is very important to human beings.

Take for example two really close friends or a couple who share everything they go through. So one day one of them has a nasty headache and he/she takes a pain reliever with Acetaminophen and an argument arises.

Due to the effects of this ingredient, the individual on Acetaminophen will feel less pain during the argument which results in less understanding of the other person’s feelings.

See where DR. Baldwin’s worry comes in?

These results shine a light on Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, as commonly known in the US or paracetamol in other parts of the world. While taking it may reduce pain, it might also reduce one’s ability to feel other people’s pain.

Extensive research on Acetaminophen is going on and researchers are turning to another common pain reliever, ibuprofen, to just try and see whether it has the same effects on people.

Not to scare you but this is just one of the reasons why you need to be very careful particularly when taking medications without getting prescriptions from a qualified medical practitioner. Of course, extensive use of such drugs may not have an effect on you, but why take the risks?


  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Toni Fss

    I have read this before

  2. Alison Lontor Deem

    I think other pain killers do this too

  3. Shelly Beasley

    The only thing I take is plain ole aspirin. It has been around for years

  4. Julianne Gunn

    Sorta don’t agree…i have lupus…pain meds are my friend…and I’m one of the most empathetic people I know

    1. Kimberly Jones

      Me too. Lupus requires pain meds, but I have nothing but empathy for others because not only lupus but epilepsy. So Being a person that has no control over my own body I feel for others and don’t like to see others hurting for any reason physical or emotional.

    2. Deborah K Smith

      Do you take tylenol?

    3. Julianne Gunn

      It’s panadol in Australia…and yes

    4. Alana Whitney

      I do not have lupus, but am a chronic pain sufferer of more than 20 years and my pain meds (including paracetamol) have absolutely no impact of my level of empathy … like you, I feel more empathy for others, not less ☺

  5. Susana Weingarten

    Fuck tylenol, paracetamol, The Cleveland Clinic, a pride of some idiot clevelander’s prescribe this garbage instead of other stuff that actually desinfamates, tylenol is the newest patron of this clinic, this factory of $$$$, doctors and nurses just say : “next”…..like #’s

  6. Maurino Manalac Paule

    I take paracetamol because I am allergy to ibuprofen

  7. Chad Joseph

    Side effects may include turning into a psycho. Although this only happens in 1% of people who take _______ lol so crazy

  8. Aaron Hepler

    You’re less empathetic because you’re in your own pain, hence why you took the pain pills, not because of the pills themselves. If i get punched in the face and then someone else gets punched in the face, im going to be more focused on my pain rather than the pain of the other person.

  9. Alana Whitney

    Ohhhh, pleeeease. Any idiot can call their study “research” and then other idiots believe it … here’s my study of reading countless articles proclaiming “evidence” … the majority are not credible and nothing but BS. I question everything I read and some of the stuff I have read under the guise of “research” is so stupid it actually makes me squint … smh
    Oh wait, hold on … it must be true; it’s on FB

  10. Jeff Allison

    “The study consisted of just two small experiments—the first surveyed 80 college students and the second, 114 college students. “In order to come to such a sweeping conclusion, the sample size needs to be in the thousands and needs to be taken out of the insular walls of a college and conducted in the real world,” says Bola Oyeyipo, M.D., of Healthgist.com.”


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