Sunday, June 12, 2011

Love is a Drug

Love is a powerful narcotic with devastatingly addictive properties.

- Xenocrates
Have you ever been in love? Are you in love right now? What's the craziest thing you wouldn't do for the person you love? If you can think of more than three of them, then you probably aren't in love. You are probably experiencing a deep emotional affection heavily tempered by rationality. That's the right place to be, because when you're in love with someone, it is easier to have died a thousand deaths than to let go of that warm, infuriatingly intoxicating feeling.

Whatever you do, don't fall in love before you read this.


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Remember

Recall the first time you experienced their love, the first time you had something you couldn't let go of. Recall how the lingering wisps of their scent would consume your memories until you are spent. Recall how the briefest glance from across a room would instantly dispel all your sense of gloom. Recall the novelty of your new sense of want, not for a thing but a confidant.

Remember the awkward first conversations you had, filled with missteps that didn't make you mad. Remember that annoying thing that they do that no longer seems to bother you. Recall how even their greatest flaws curiously don't give you much reason for pause. Recall how the most mundane of their traits had you captivated, indulgent and constantly staring into space.

Recall all the lovely things you heard in your conversations with them where neither said a word. Remember the long, lingering friendly grin, the kisses that tease the soft of your skin. Recall how the slightest touch on your nape and the warm embraces clutching your shape would tickle your spine, relax your face, and thus disable your limbs in their clutching embrace.

Then remember the physical pain you felt, scarring your heart with an emotional welt when they spontaneously recoil and drain you dry of the love on which you've since come to rely. Remember how quickly your feelings of late have suddenly turned into vindictive hate that not even their death could readily sate should it come to pass in a poetically vicious twist of fate.

Allow me to instantly break this spell that has thoroughly ensnared your mind so well. You're high on drugs of a natural sort, I'm sorry that I'd have to report. These feelings won't last for as you'll see, they're all a part of brain chemistry. The wanting, waiting and wasting away are not a permanent part of your day. Before all your feelings become undone, first learn of your:

Chemical Emotion

The powerful source of your highs and lows can all be traced to electrochemical activity in your brain. There are two neurotransmitters that are of particular importance in this context. They are Oxytocin (which is associated with feelings of deep affection) and Serotonin (which is also associated with feelings of happiness and contentment.) Both play a part in making you love.

When you feel love for someone, both of these chemicals are being triggered by your brain. When you have feelings of satisfaction, a third chemical, Dopamine, is being produced. People who love someone "just because" are actually dopamine addicts. They're hooked on a natural drug that contributes to giving them those "fuzzy feelings" inside. Every emotion is a chemical.

Now I don't mean to kill the magic of how you feel about someone (since technically we only use the word "magic" where the cause appears to be inexplicable). However, when you come to understand why you feel the way you do, you will quickly realize that you are not actually loving someone who "makes" you feel that way whenever you gaze longingly into their eyes.

Rather, it's because chemicals are triggered inside your brain in response to some external stimulus. It works in a very similar way to how the soft, supple flesh of a woman's breast increases blood flow to the man's penis, or the hard chest and strong arms of a man's upper body spontaneously starts a chemical reaction that lubricates the walls of a woman's vagina.

Being able to trace the source of your emotional upheavals is probably irrelevant when you're busy experiencing them. However, when the emotion is a negative one, other chemicals are produced that can, in the right quantities, literally cause physical pain. That is why when you were going through that recent break up, you had a nervous breakdown or an anxiety attack.

In both cases, the chemical reaction is so powerful that the effect it produces on your body does bring about actual, physical changes in your brain and muscle chemistry. That is why rejection "stings", heart break "hurts", betrayal sends one into a "fit of rage" and forgiveness brings "relief". Every emotion that you experience can be traced to the chemicals in your brain.

That's why we can synthesize chemicals in a lab to influence them.

The Chemical Machine


Extacy Pills
The many appearances of Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) also known as the illicit drug
Extacy. These pills can literally synthesize feelings of happiness and love.

The human brain is a chemical machine. It uses chemicals in the same way computers use software. Everything about your personality can be reduced to a specific combination of chemicals, based on a specific synaptic architecture. While no one has actually been successful in artificially replicating an entire personality completely as yet, it's very much a real possibility.

The implications of this are profound. It means that theoretically, just as how almost any kind of software can be written for a computer, drugs can be synthesized to "cure" you of a heart break or to give you immutable self confidence. It also means that you could synthetically "create" love in someone who does not love you back or rid you of that feeling when needed.

The proof is in the pudding (literally) since you can actually bake these chemicals into foods and surreptitiously make someone fall in love with you every time they eat your oven baked goodies. We already have illicit drugs on the black market such as "Extacy" with the active ingredient Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (or MDMA) that produces this effect in our brain.

The trouble is that MDMA has a very dangerous side effect. This is not unlike many other anti-depressants, or any other drug for that matter that affects brain chemistry for the better. This is because we still have a relatively poor understanding of how brain chemistry works. Therefore most psychiatric drugs today at best, poorly written software patches for our brain.

So theoretically, once we understand the fullness of our brain chemistry, then love potion no. 9 will no longer be the stuff of fiction. Think of the implications! Then we would chemically synthesize assertiveness in a lab so that you could be a better manager. You could buy a drug to cure a boyfriend's arrogance or reduce a restless girlfriend's incessant need for attention.

One could make themselves sexually irresistible to the opposite sex if you were born without the physical traits to expedite such. All they'd have to do is buy an over the counter drug that produces massive amounts of self confidence and manageable amounts of pheromone. You'd be able to take a pill that cures your feelings of affection for a woman you know you can't have or dispel your emotional dependency on a man you wish you had never begun to love.

The Truth About Love's Longevity

Old Couple feeding birds in a park.
Remember that the next time you "feel" love for your significant other, that feeling is based on something very material. As a material thing, it is intrinsically finite. This means that you can technically only love someone for a fixed period of time. This is why many romantic stories often feature vampires who never die. It's just a metaphor for the idea that love lasts forever.

Of course, that's just a myth — and I'm not referring to the vampires.

Most successful marriages are not based on love. They are based on lots of hard work, lots of forgiveness, and lots of patience, which are only causally related to feelings of love. In fact, the notable longevity of most long term relationships is largely attributable to the positive reinforcement that comes from being addicted to the chemicals produced by not being alone.

In other words, many relationships thrive because their incumbents are dopamine addicts. Once the stimulus that induces the production of dopamine dies away, the relationship will quickly end. In fact, many of the men who unabashedly pledge their love for a woman in a public place are merely experiencing a massive rush of Oxytocin to the top of the brain stem.

Men who've just had the best round of sex of their lives will have their brains flooded with what feel like several quarts of serotonin. They will wake up the next morning feeling like 180 Gigawatts of sunshine, with the sensation that they could piss rainbows and save the world. All of these feelings can be tied to activity in your brain chemistry. None of them last forever.

That is why everyone who is considering getting married must first understand something very simple: The way you feel when you first discovered each other will not last forever. The way you feel when you first had sex with your lover will not last forever. The way you feel on your wedding day will not last forever. One day, those chemicals will burn out and the love will die.

Concordantly, the way you feel during a breakup will not last forever either. You don't need to kill her and yourself. You don't need to hire a private detective to find out what they are up to. You're not actually dying even if you feel that way. You will get over it, just like how you had gotten over that pain of stubbing your toe. Just like every other pain, it eventually goes away.

Pharmaceutical Advisory

This Valentine's Day, do yourself a favour: Remember that how you are feeling about your girlfriend as you sit across from her at a table on the most expensive date night of the year in a fancy restaurant is probably not worth the cash you spent on reservations, dinner, a movie or chocolate gifts. If she should break your heart, those chemicals have the opposite effect.

Similarly, remember that each time a man tells you that he loves you, he is being poisoned by overwhelming amounts of Oxytocin, which in that moment, not even he has the brain power to be consciously aware of. Remember that whatever feelings erupt in your gut there after are little more than a corresponding chemical reaction to the ones that he is helplessly victim to.

If you two end up having sex, then the drugs have done their job.

Again, I must reiterate that I'm not saying all this to diminish the sensation that you feel when you fall in love. For even though you now understand the cause and effect (and therefore the intrinsic value) of love, when those chemicals flood your brain, you will not care about the Science behind it all. None of that will matter when your brain sky high on a flood of Oxytocin.

Just remember that love is a drug. It's nature's way of convincing you to procreate. No woman would lay on her back and let a man do that to her without being pacified by a very powerful combination of chemicals. Similarly, no man in his right mind would take such large portions of his empire that he bravely fought other men for and just give it to a woman for some vagina.

That is why when the drugs wear off and you both come to, the feelings of shame, anger and disgust that follow a lack of mutuality will have just as powerful an effect on your relationship as it did in bringing it into being. If those feelings persist, then they could do you real physical harm much in the same way that narcotic drugs do when they are used without great caution.

Side Effects

Love is a powerful narcotic with devastatingly addictive properties. Even after you fall out of love, you will be tempted to renew that sensation like a crack addict searching for their next fix. The problem is that these people are not discriminative about the relationship that they find — which is why they are only rewarded with the dopamine high without the satisfaction.

Then again, on the far end of the spectrum, you could be transformed into a deeply paranoid, possessive dictator, a jealous fiend that ruins the life of the object of their affection. Another possibility is that one could evolve into a wounded animal that largely spends the rest of their lives having empty, callous sex, avoiding real relationships. These are the side effects of love.

Summary


Love And Other Drugs

Love And Other Drugs" (2010) - Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, is perhaps the most realistic romantic comedy ever made, and that's saying a quite a bit for the genre.

None of these realities have to be yours, once you are conscious of the fact that love is a drug. Just like any other drug, there's a dosage that is right for your situation. Too little and it fizzes out quickly like the explosive chemical reaction between lime juice and baking soda. Too much and it could precipitate an emotional roller coaster ride of extreme highs and deep lows.

Before you fall in love, manage your expectations. Only indulge in the Oxytocin rush in works of fiction where they can do you no harm. Determine your lover's worst faults before you make an emotional commitment. This way, you subconsciously become your own pharmacist with the ability to administer just the right amount of Oxytocin to allow real love to work its magic.

Either way, enjoy your Valentine's day. Just remember that it's only 24 hours long. If you want your love to last much longer, then you also need to know that love by itself, is never enough.


E-mail: accordingtoxen[at]gmail[dot]com

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