by Simran V '11

The Science of Love and Obsession

There are so many different ways of defining love. Some would describe it as emotional attachment or undying affection. Some would say it’s the butterflies in your stomach or that fuzzy feeling inside. But, believe it or not, love can be scientifically explained.
to experiments at Rutgers University, being in love causes the chemical, dopamine to be released. Dopamine changes the activity of one’s nerve cells and is heavily linked to norepinephrine. Norepinephrine increases heart rate and is also known to intensify attention span, sleeplessness, and hyperactivity. Such symptoms are very common to what one feels when one is “in love.”
experiments also led to discoveries explaining that love makes the brain hinder fear. When one is in love, their Amygdala pathways are briefly immobilized. These pathways are linked to the part of the brain that controls emotions. It interprets information that prompts fear and in turn, triggers reactions. When these pathways are immobilized, the brain cannot interpret anything to be fearful or dangerous. Hence, love gets rid of any sense of fear or distress.
many psychologists ponder how true love is different from obsession as opposed to what love does to your brain and body. This is because many times, people confuse love with obsession. In Confusing Love with Obsession, John Moore discusses the Obsession Love Wheel. This wheel has four stages that describe obsessive love: attraction, anxiety, obsession and destruction. The first phase, attraction, has to do with physical draw. In this phase, personalities don’t matter, as long as the person is physically attracted to their obsession.
second phase, anxiety, exists after two people decide to commit to one another. In this stage, a person is constantly apprehensive about his/her relationship. A person may display an overwhelming amount of fear and insecurity about the relationship. The anxiety stage is characterized by mistrust. The third stage, obsession, is where one’s obsessive behavior takes over and becomes very prominent. This is when compulsion begins to control a person’s actions, causing one to believe he or she is completely in love.
last phase is destruction. In this phase, the obsessed person goes into depression and loses self-esteem. This is when the relationship breaks apart and the obsessed person may try winning their “loved one” back. This wheel helps outline the differences between love and obsession. Specifically, that love is more about others than oneself, whereas obsession is “self-centered love.”
, all this research provides no clear answer as to the exact reason behind love. Although loves’ effect on the body and mind can be defined, there are many ambiguities surrounding the concept of love. The causes of love (as opposed to the symptoms of love), for example, have yet to be defined. Love will always be shrouded with mystery.


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