Brain in Love

Graphic: James W. Lewis and Jen Christiansen

Ah, love - the ultimate in human feelings that conquers all ... or is it? Thanks to MRI studies, scientists have dissected the various brain regions that get activated when you feel passionate as well as other types of love.

Scientific American has the details:

Men and women can now thank a dozen brain regions for their romantic fervor. Researchers have revealed the fonts of desire by comparing functional MRI studies of people who indicated they were experiencing passionate love, maternal love or unconditional love. Together, the regions release neuro­transmitters and other chemicals in the brain and blood that prompt greater euphoric sensations such as attraction and pleasure. Conversely, psychiatrists might someday help individuals who become dangerously depressed after a heartbreak by adjusting those chemicals.

Passion also heightens several cognitive functions, as the brain regions and chemicals surge. “It’s all about how that network interacts,” says Stephanie Ortigue, an assistant professor of psychology at Syracuse University, who led the study. The cognitive functions, in turn, “are triggers that fully activate the love network.” Tell that to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.

Link - via Nerdcore

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An egoism a deux as Fromm calls it. While you can break love down to various chemical processes including phenethylamine, oxytocin, norepineprhine, testosterone and estrogen. It is probably more profitable to talk about it in the common tongue. When a man loves a woman she is like a divine presence. His sense of self-worth becomes chained to her opinions and attitudes. i.e. "Self-representation" and "Attention". While these are certainly benefits to the common form of mental disorder known as egoism, they are not by any means beneficial to humanity or reality as a whole. This type of finite and selfish consumption of one's own neurochemicals may only serve to make on more arrogant and myopic while attempting to lay claim ("self-representation") to a completely external element (one's mate).

But as is implied, there is love that doesn't equate to elated self-satisfaction, narrowed mindedness and hours of staring into each others eyes trying to find the other's elusive soul (which doesn't exist in any case). The kind of love you feel when you help someone genuinely in need and don't even get the slightest recognition for it, but you are okay with it because you love the person and that's why you did it.

Rather, watch how quickly this shallow form of finite love turns into a screaming match, shouting "What have you ever done for me?" and "I loved you more than anyone could." etc... etc... The other kind of love is more often than not painful because it consistently implies loss in the form of self-sacrifice. Whose neurochemical correlates are probably more akin to that of being physically injured.
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