The Love Drug


| 7 Comments
lovedrug.jpgWe all know what it feels like to be in a relationship. You experience amazing highs as well as depressing lows. This is all a part of learning how to fully understand yourself as well as learning how to understand someone else. This is also all a part of allowing your self to be vulnerable in many aspects. In addition to knowing what it feels like to be in a relationship, we've all seen that couple that is head-over-heels in love with each other. From the nonstop photos to the ridiculously obsessive Facebook posts. That couple exhibits a love that seems over-the-top. Their relationship appears to be very beautiful, but their arguments appear to be very disgusting. Sometimes many aspects of the relationship seem unreal. According to Invigorate360, Scientific studies have proven that being in love has many of the same effects on the brain as an addiction. Interesting? I Know !

Dr. Helen Fisher of Rutgers University has done research on the effect love has on the brain. Using MRI scans to determine what physical changes occur in the brain while someone is in love, she has noted that the same chemical changes occur in the brain with love as they do with drug use. She also notes:
 
"The first stages of love can produce a high, and this can result in certain brain areas acting unusual. Risk taking is increased, a feeling of euphoria takes over, and the lovers can think of little else except each other. All of these reactions are caused by the limbic system in the brain, which changes the neurotransmitter levels. This area is what helps govern behavior, preventing obsession and reckless behavior, and love has the opposite effect and can increase this activity instead."

If you've ever been in love or have felt very strongly about someone you can probably relate. When you are in the "honeymoon" stage of your relationship, everything is going well. You feel an overwhelming sense of happiness. The body takes this as being a "high." 

Invigorate360 also goes on to mention another study done by Dr. Arthur Aron of Stonybrook University. Dr. Aron asserts that the honeymoon phase fades after awhile and is replaced by what he calls "companionate love." Companionate love is not categorized by the extreme highs we see present during the honeymoon phase. This phase however can be seen as an addiction as well because the bonding between both mates is significant. MRI scans from Aron's research show that during this companionate love, the areas of the brain associated with reward are active.

"This is the same part of the brain that is active for addicts, whether the addiction is drugs, gambling, alcohol, or some other substance or activity."

Dr. Lucy Brown of Albert Einstein College of Medicine also asserts this claim. She has done studies involving MRI tests for individuals at the honeymoon phase of their relationship. She noted that during this phase, the ventral tegmental area of the brain is active and that is the same part of the brain that is active when one experiences a high from cocaine or other drugs. Studies have also shown that people in the honeymoon phase of their relationship showed a chemical balance in the brain similar to those who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD - http://www.ocfoundation.org/whatisocd.aspx). Serotin is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Low serotin levels can be associated with mood disorders such as depression and OCD. A drop in serotin levels is believed to be responsible for one's obsession with his/her significant other.

In our case we can say that there is a direct correlation between being in love and which areas of the brain are activated. We must also note however, that there may be a series of other factors contributing to these chemical balances. Love may not be the only thing contributing to one's happiness and it may not be the only thing contributing to one's depression. Many people actually don't think it is a good thing to rely solely on a significant other to make them happy because this creates a situation where the significant other completely controls their moods. On that same token, many people believe that being in love is all about vulnerability and their significant other should have the power to control their feelings because that gives their significant other the ability to uplift them.

Have any of you experienced the love drug? If so, can you identify with the feelings presented in the argument?



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7 Comments

this is a very interesting post! As i was reading it however i couldnt help but think about what lust does to someones brain? i know several people that seem to never leave the honeymoon phase and break up once it is over. My friend is notorious for having 3 month relationships, and they were all the same. In each of his relationships within the first couple weeks they would be crazy about each other, excessive facebook posts, calls, PDA etc.. but it would only last 3-4 months. So i wonder if he is addicted to what his brain feels like in the "honeymoon phase" like you said, and if there is a difference in his brain which i would deme lustful as compared to someone elses.

Have you ever seen the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic? Besides being wildly funny, it talks about the addiction to shopping that many people can get. Our brain is incredible and can work in many mysterious ways, but when it comes to getting what we want I'm afraid that addictions will always be some kind of a problem. When we love something or enjoy something, we want more of it, and when we don't get it we start to crave it, that's just human nature. So I can absolutely believe that it is possible for some people to become addicted to love. It's true, some people just love love. They constantly want that feeling of being in love with someone and having a boyfriend, even when a lot of people have trouble believing their true feelings after seeing that they've been with this person they love for a mere 2 months. Was it just love at first sight? Or, if you have fallen in love, or at least think you have, many times before does it just become easier to fall in love more often?


I found a great video that I think would interest you! Stanford doctors did an observation; took a few subjects and asked them to think about their "love" as hard as they can and while while they scan it. It's pretty interesting and a great watch!

I found a great video that I think would interest you! Stanford doctors did an observation; took a few subjects and asked them to think about their "love" as hard as they can and while while they scan it. It's pretty interesting and a great watch!

https://vimeo.com/33698394#

It's interesting that you mention lust. That never crossed my mind. Many people think that lust is actually love, so my guess would be that lust would have many of the same effects on the brain as love. Believe me, I've had my share of friends who have been in short term relationships and were head over heels for their significant other during that short period. In addition, I think that lust can have the same effect on the brain as love for people who have never experienced true love, but then again, who are we to define how someone feels?

Lust however, is defined as having a strong (usually sexual) desire for someone. Can the two exist without each other? In my opinion love can exist without lust. You can love someone without having a sexual relationship with someone, BUT the majority of people who are in love are physically attracted to each other, which in a sense can be considered lust. I think lust can exist entirely without love because many people lust after another person only physically and don't have a genuine emotional attachment.

Here is an article that i read that describes some of the differences between love and lust. https://http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201108/lust-vs-love-do-you-know-the-difference

Some of the differences that were noted are:

SIGNS OF LUST
You're totally focused on a person's looks and body.
You're interested in having sex, but not in having conversations.
You'd rather keep the relationship on a fantasy level, not discuss real feelings.
You want to leave soon after sex rather than cuddling or breakfast the next morning.
You are lovers, but not friends.


SIGNS OF LOVE
You want to spend quality time together other than sex.
You get lost in conversations and forget about the hours passing.
You want to honestly listen to each other's feelings, make each other happy.
He or she motivates you to be a better person.
You want to get to meet his or her family and friends.

I think that lust can cause someone to have feelings that are similar if not identical to love, regardless of the differences in the underlying desires of the two. This can lead to lust having the same effect as love on the brain.

In your friend's case, I think many people are addicted to the honeymoon phase of relationships. No one wants to constantly fight with their significant other. In addition what you may deme lustful may not be considered lustful to someone else, so it's impossible to define how someone feels if you are not that person.

I actually haven't seen the movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic" but there is a book with that title that I have read. I agree with you 100%. When we love or enjoy something, it is human nature for us to want more of it. We all want to be loved or be in love so bad, so many of us will use any emotion that resembles love (for example: lust) and say it's real love. In regards to your last note: "Or, if you have fallen in love, or at least think you have, many times before does it just become easier to fall in love more often?", I read a very interesting quote recently. The quote said "Your first love serves one purpose: To teach you how to truly love the second person." I don't think being in love before or thinking you have been in love before makes it easier to fall in love again. I think it actually makes it harder because you will begin to search for someone with similar qualities as your first love but they can't have the qualities that your first love had that you disliked. You will also know what to avoid, and which qualities wave a red flag when you meet someone.

That was an amazing video !! Thank you for sharing.
I thought that the "love competition" included a wide range of age groups. We had the male and female who were in their 70s, a male who was 60, a male in his 30s, two females in their 20s and a young boy who was 10. I think what made the video more compelling was that every single person loved in a different way. Love wasn't only associated with a significant other. One of the females had never even felt love and for the competition felt love through meditation. The male who was 60 stated that he was in love multiple times, but he noted that you can be in love with an experience or other things that genuinely make you happy. The boy who was 10 associated love with his baby cousin. I think this opened my eyes because when we think of love, we automatically thing of a husband/wife boyfriend/girlfriend or significant other when love can be attached to and can describe so many different things.

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