True Strange Library

The curious collection of a slightly mad scientist

The Chemistry of Love

How are you doing in the LOVE department? Are you IN love? Breaking up? Sad and lonely? Angry at the world? Have you never been in love?  Not sure?

Here’s a bit of love science in case you might need it.

Love is a mechanism nature uses to ensure that we reproduce and that our offspring survive. The chemicals involved in our brains can make losing love one of the most painful emotional experiences we can have as human beings. Many people have died from it, in fact. Yes, you can die from a broken heart. Physical pain and the pain of social rejection are experienced in much the same way by  your brain.

If your partner’s oxytocin receptors get blocked, they will lose interest in love. On the other side, if you are addicted to someone, you might want to find a way to block your oxytocin receptors.

One way to look at love is to understand that kissing and hugging elevates oxytocin. People who are in love have unusually low levels of the vital neurotransmitter serotonin and people with obsessive compulsive disorder are unusually insensitive to serotonin, so there is a chemical basis for the view that love is an obsession.

During rejection, the breakup becomes a puzzle that must be solved and things can get pretty uncomfortable. Eventually, your brain chemicals will normalize, so just ride it out. While you are going through a break up, it’s okay to cry, but never overwhelm yourself with grief. If you start to go too deep into that, just slap yourself or something and snap out of it. Don’t do it. That’s not going to help you out. Be kind to yourself. Keep busy. Do things you really enjoy and keep up your social network.

4 comments on “The Chemistry of Love

  1. hitchens67
    March 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on hitchens67 Atheism WOW!! Campaign and commented:
    I have said for some time that love is a chemical reaction in the brain with all of the needed evidence to support my statement. It is biology, nothing more. There is only impulse created by certain chemicals being at certain levels at the right time.

    • Xeno
      March 15, 2015

      Perhaps any one person’s chemical “love key” will turn out to be more complicated than we now imagine. I’d suggest that the chemicals are to love as the colors of paint are to a painting. The complexity of our experience of love happens in the dynamic interplay, the colors we lay down, how they mix, and in what order. This explains why the same thing can happen to two different people and they may react differently due to different biology and different past experiences. But on the other hand a real 100% effective love potion would be an awesome invention.🙂

      I believe biology is indeed the substrate for all of our experiences, but is this like saying a book is just words on paper and nothing more? The experience is the ideas rather than the ink. I think it is the wonderfully complex dynamic interplay of reactions that create our models of the world (meaning), and this is the part that seems magical or spiritual to many people.

      • hitchens67
        March 27, 2015

        I agree, I was actually trying to convey that this very complex dance of chemistry is very biological and in no way supernatural in nature as many would suggest. Mess with the chemistry and the feelings change regardless of how ‘In love’ a person is. Take away certain chemicals or change their levels and passionate love becomes complete cold indifference.

  2. Xeno
    March 27, 2015

    Sounds correct to me. Attributing something to the supernatural is probably an adaptive shortcut we evolved that allows us to skip over details and experience an overall character. If a volcano threatens to erupt, superstitious anthropomorphic thinkers may conclude that the volcano god wants something ( often something the chief of the village actually wants.) It always bothers me when I hear a “holy man” getting people to do things he wants by telling superstitious followers that this is something “god” wants.

    Anyway, passionate love seems to be a particular brain state:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/graphic-science-passionate-love-in-the-brain/

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This entry was posted on March 15, 2015 by in Biology, Love.
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