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E. The Benefits of Re-living Stressful Events

Narrator: This is Science Today. If you were recently insulted, you can recapture the inevitable anger you felt by re-living the event in your mind. While this may seem very unpleasant, Nicholas Christenfeld, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, says re-living stressful events is actually beneficial in the long run.

Christenfeld: Things that you view as terrible, outrageous and you think 'I will never be able to forgive that' and then a few days afterwards after you think about it, you think that it's unconscionable what that person did and then you discover a little while later, 'eh, somehow it just doesn't seem that important'. Somehow, the energy has drained out of it.

Narrator: Christenfeld discovered that's because the first time people re-live a stressful event, their blood pressure rises just as it did the first time. But when they re-live the event again, nothing happens..

Christenfeld: It's certainly the kind of thing that psychologists and psychiatrists care about - this notion of working through something where you re-live it and then it robs it of it's emotional power. And what we have here is sort of blood pressure evidence that corroborates that view.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.