A groundbreaking exploration of our most complex and mysterious emotion
Elation, mood swings, sleeplessness, and obsession—these are the tell-tale signs of someone in the throes of romantic passion. In this revealing new book, renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher explains why this experience—which cuts across time, geography, and gender—is a force as powerful as the need for food or sleep.
Why We Love begins by presenting the results of a scientific study in which Fisher scanned the brains of people who had just fallen madly in love. She proves, at last, what researchers had only suspected: when you fall in love, primordial areas of the brain “light up” with increased blood flow, creating romantic passion. Fisher uses this new research to show exactly what you experience when you fall in love, why you choose one person rather than another, and how romantic love affects your sex drive and your feelings of attachment to a partner. She argues that all animals feel romantic attraction, that love at first sight comes out of nature, and that human romance evolved for crucial reasons of survival. Lastly, she offers concrete suggestions on how to control this ancient passion, and she optimistically explores the future of romantic love in our chaotic modern world.
Provocative, enlightening, and persuasive, Why We Love offers radical new answers to the age-old question of what love is and thus provides invaluable new insights into keeping love alive.
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Helen Fisher, Ph.D., is one of this country’s most prominent anthropologists. Prior to becoming a research professor at Rutgers University, she was a research associate at Manhattan’s American Museum of Natural History. Fisher has conducted extensive research on the evolution, expression, and science of love, and her two most recent books, The First Sex and The Anatomy of Love, were New York Times Notable Books. She lives in New York City.
From Why We Love:
All of our basic drives are exceedingly difficult to control. It is impossible to sublimate or redirect thirst or hunger. It is difficult to quell the maternal instinct. And it is very tough to control one’s persistent craving for a sweetheart. We need food. We need water. We need salt. We need warmth. And the lover needs the beloved. Plato had it right over two thousand years ago. The God of Love “lives in a state of need.” Romantic love is a need; it is a fundamental human drive.
The drive to love has produced some of humankind’s most compelling operas, plays, and novels, our most touching poems and haunting melodies, the world’s finest sculptures and paintings, and our most colorful festivals, myths, and legends. Love has adorned the world and brought many of us tremendous joy. But this passion is fickle. When love is scorned, it can cause excruciating sorrow. Romantic rejection, crimes of passion, and high divorce and adultery rates are prevalent in societies around the world.
Romantic love is one of the most intense of all human experiences; blissful when it is requited; devastating when it is spurned. I think it is time for a serious attempt to answer Shakespeare’s question: “What ‘tis to love?”
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