I never got down to writing about the article in the National Geographic that I mentioned in What is love…? I found this the other day and well it makes what I was talking about so much easier. All summerized and in a plate ready to be served. Ahhh love to be a Dubai Kid 🙂
Thursday, 02 March 2006
Being madly in love could be just that – a spell of madness say scientists who compare feelings on infatuation with a state of mental illness, writes Lizzy Millar.
Their eyes met across a crowded room. She instantly felt her heart flip. His jaw dropped as he gazed at the apparition of beauty that stood before him.
For the next hour they made eyes at each other before he plucked up the courage to approach this most gorgeous being who he could only imagine had fallen from heaven. With her heart pounding, she nervously twirled her hair around her fingers as this hunk of a man stood before her….
For the next three months, there was nothing else that mattered to these young lovebirds than, each other. Rarely did a day pass, without them raising a toast to the intoxicating potion of passion.
They were crazy about each other. But the real challenge was could their love last the course? Scientists say that the brain chemistry of infatuation is akin to mental illness – which gives a new meaning to being ‘madly in love.’
Anthropologist Helen Fisher, a professor at Rutgers University, has devoted much of her career to studying the biochemical pathways of love in all its manifestations: lust, romance and attachment.
In the latest edition of National Geographic, researchers find that romantic love exists in virtually all cultures, but for many people it has nothing to do with long-term relationships.
Their underlying message comes as something of a sharp blow to those of us seeking life partners as scientists question; can a relationship endure when passion wanes?
In tracing the chemical pathways of love, Fisher finds that romance lights up the caudate nucleusin the brain that is home to a dense cluster of receptors for a neurotransmitter called dopamine.
In turn, a good dose of dopamine makes us feel exhilarated, more focused and motivated so we’re feeling bolder, brighter and more willing to take risks. However, being head-over-heels in love can, scientists claim, has similar symptoms to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In studying the biochemistry of lovesickness Donatella Marazziti, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pisa in Italy, found that people suffering OCD and those who said they obsess over the object of their love for at least four hours a day, had similar levels of serotonin.
So does this necessarily mean that we’re all destined to turning barking mad in the early throes of love? And is our choice of a mate based purely on warm feelings and flights of fancy?
One theory is that we fall in love with a person not so much because of the future we hope to build with them, but because they remind of a past we hope to reclaim.
If when meeting someone for the first time, we feel we’ve known this person for years, it could be because they remind us of our own parents or a childhood sweetheart.
Briton Kate, 31, says she fell head over heels for a Lebanese waiter as he reminded her of a boy she met aged 11 during a school exchange trip to the South of Spain.
“I remember when I first met this boy, I could hardly speak as I was so mesmerised by his eyes. They looked like two shiny chestnuts and his black glossy hair felt so silky and smooth.
His brown complexion was radiant beyond compare. Since that defining moment, I’ve had a thing for dark, exotic looking men.”
If this all sounds like a load of psychobabble, who’s to say that we may be just as deluded about love as we are when we’re in love ourselves? And what happens when the rose-tinted spectacles fall off and that husky voice you once swooned over sounds rough and grating?
In National Geographic, Helen Fisher says that burning feeling of passion will eventually simmer into a state of attachment so that we may provide a stable nest in which to raise our offspring.
After all, she adds, if the chemically altered state induced by romantic love continues for too long, it could result in psychological damage. For incurable romantics there is hope in the form of oxytocin, a chemical that promotes feeling of connection, bonding.
So are our chances of lasting love as much dependent on a cocktail of chemicals swirling around our bodies as they are on bumping into ‘The One’ in a crowded room?
Mary, 26, Scottish, lambastes the scientific theory. She says: “When I met my former boyfriend I didn’t like him as there was no X factor. But he kept chasing me so I gave him a chance.
“I soon began to appreciate him more by recognising other qualities in him. I saw in him a different light and sure enough we eventually feel in love.
But later reality bit when we decided to not to allow our hearts to rule our heads and accept that we couldn’t go on as they were too many cultural and religious differences for us to make it to the altar.”
South African Alex, 28, is equally unimpressed with the scientific findings. He says: “Our hedonistic culture places emphasis on the thrill of meeting someone new.
“But what is real love? It’s being there for your spouse in the good times as well as the bad. You can’t sum up human love to bunch of chemicals.”
Reverend Daniel Splett, who has brought together scores of couple in holy matrimony at the United Christian Church of Dubai, says: “Love is decision you make along with the feelings you feel.
You choose to nurture love. It needs to be expressed in words which include being willing to say you’re sorry. “You also need to be able to ask for forgiveness from your partner.”