Speaker: Helen Fisher
Topic: Fisher did brain studies on people in different stages of love (new love, recently dumped, couples that had been in love for 20 years) to learn about why people physically need romantic love.
Relation to Addiction:
Fisher says that romantic love is an addiction –
“You focus on the person. You obsessively thinking about them. You crave them. You’re willing to take enormous risks to win this person. And it’s got the three main characteristics of addiction: tolerance… withdrawal… and relapse.”
It has been clinically proven that love is a drug that interacts with the brain in similar ways to chemical substances. It has recently been found that when in love, a person is more able to withstand pain than if they are not.
If love is considered a drug, then we can see apply the research on love to drug. This shows that, like love, drugs cause intense concentration, so much so that many other thing in a our lives (like pain) are can be tolerated or forgotten because we have our “eyes on the prize.”
With drug addicts, this intensity and focus could help explain why there is nothing on their minds except the next hit. Addicts’ health, appearance, jobs, even children and love ones can be forgotten because the drug has taken a hold of one of the oldest parts of their brains, that is responsible for needs and wants.
Fisher also finds that “the brain system, the reward system, for wanting, for motivation, for craving, for focus becomes more active when you can’t get what you want.”
A person has withdrawal symptoms when he/she gets dumped. When this happens, “the brain circuit for reward is working and [the one who was dumped feels] intense energy, intense focus, intense motivation, and a willingness to risk it all”. Again, applied to other addictive substances, when trying to stay sober, an addict’s brain is intensely fixated on the fact that it cannot have the drug, which may explain why relapse is so prevalent.