Anthropologist Helen Fisher says years of research have led her to believe that romantic love isn't simply about emotions, instead it is a drive like hunger than needs to be satisfied.
Fisher, a Research Professor and member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, has conducted extensive research on the evolution and future of human sex, love and marriage and gender differences in the brain and behavior.
She continues to explore all of these areas in her latest book Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love.
In Why We Love, Fisher explores why humans experience mood swings, sleeplessness, and obsession when they fall in love. Fisher says humans share these similar experiences — which cut across time, geography, and gender — because love is a powerful force, which she compares to our need for food and 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 in love.
Fisher used findings from her new research to show what humans experience as they fall in love.
Read a short excerpt 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?"
Find out more about Fisher and her research at /www.helenfisher.com/
Copyright © 2004 by Helen Fisher, Ph.D., Henry Holt and Company Publishers