Atlantic Canada — A new study by UNB neuroscientists has found that moms across the Maritimes — especially empty-nesters — experience no greater thrill in life than the one they feel when relaying information about a friend or relative who’s “not doing well.”
The study chose dozens of Maritime mothers and measured levels of endorphins and dopamine in their brains as they talked on the phone to their adult children about a variety of topics, from neutral to exciting. The biggest excitement/happiness peak arrived when moms told their kids about a church friend, elderly relative, neighbour or acquaintance who was in poor health.
Scientists hooked Saint John mother Jean Doherty’s skull up to a variety of wires and had her call her 30-year-old son. “I’m not sure whether you heard, but great-aunt Amelia took a nasty fall, and her husband Alfred is failing as well,” reported Doherty. “Do you remember them?”
Her levels of dopamine — the hormone associated with bliss and pleasure — surged enormously.
The same thing happened with Truro mom Maureen Love when she told her daughter about a friend’s ongoing ailment.
“Beth Smith has a nasty flu that’s stuck around for months, poor thing,” gushed the elated Love. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t make it through winter. It’s just terrible.”
“Mom, I have no idea who that is,” replied her confused daughter. Love’s thrill-level was not diminished whatsoever by this revelation.
Miramichi baby boomer Barb Howell experienced something akin to both winning the Lotto 6/49 jackpot and riding a roller-coaster, the study showed, when revealing to her entire family over Skype that her neighbour Ken Ronaldson slipped and fell in his driveway, fracturing his hip.
“Ken has been getting quite feeble in recent years, and I guess even with his walker he was no match for these constant ice storms. He’s not doing good at all,” she said, feigning sadness and empathy but actually entering a euphoric state comparable to being high on ecstasy.
The study also found that the second biggest thrill for moms happens when they beat a particularly tricky level of Candy Crush.