I am fascinated by the neurology of the brain and how it affects cognition, emotion, volition, and spirituality.
I am also fortunate enough to work during the week at an organization that uses brain scans to assist in the treatment of addiction and other co-occurring disorders. I get to speak to doctors and researchers on a fairly regular basis on how neuroscience influences spiritual health and vice verse.
The following video from TED features Anthropologist Helen Fisher talking about the neurological basis of sexual desire, romantic love, and longterm attachment. She discusses why we love as a species and its sociological function of propogating our kind. Her research is interesting because it included MRI brain scans.
Here are few things that I found interesting in her talk I've simplified some of the ideas to make it more understandable for me. :)
- Romantic love is not an emotion. It is a drive. It is the same kind of rush that a person gets when doing cocaine as it heightens dopamine in the brain. (I find this interesting as most of the upper class crack addicts I work with frequent escorts or multiple partners when smoking crack cocaine.)
- Sexual drive leads to romantic love which leads to longterm attachment love.
- Attachment love evolved to allow the individual to tolerate the other individual over a long period of time. This ensured the posibility of rearing the next generation.
- Longterm use of anti-depressants elevate serotonin and suppress dopamine. This suppression of dopamine actually suppresses the sex drive and the ability to fall in love which in turn impedes the subsequent ability to attach to another over a long amount of time. Shortterm use of antidepresssants to stabilize the individual is probably best.
- She concludes by saying happiness is something we work out over a lifetime and not a given. [I often teach my clients that in America we believe in the right to pursue happiness (Jefferson in the Constitution) which is very different than the right to be happy. Happiness is a by-product of a life lived according to healthy spiritual principles. It's a reward or by-product and not a given right!]
- Fisher contends that the 21st Century will see and may already be seeing greater marriage equality due to partners being more equal. She says that arranged marriages will be a thing of a past due to greater equality in the workplace which produces greater equality in the home.
The video is 23 minutes so watch this when you have some time to really listen.