Love as an addiction
Recently, more and more scientists have been suggesting that the neurobiological mechanisms that underpin the feeling of love resemble addiction in various ways. For example, it's a known fact that love triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that was nicknamed "the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll" hormone because the body releases it when a person engages in pleasurable activities. Overall, from a neurological point of view, love activates the same brain circuitry and reward mechanisms that are involved in addiction. Helen Fisher, PhD, a biological anthropologist and a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, University of Indiana, led a now-famous experiment that illustrated this.
In the study, researchers asked 15 participants who reported feeling intensely in love to look at images of their lovers who had rejected them. As they did so, the scientists scanned the participants' brains in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.
The study found high brain activity in areas associated with cocaine addiction, "gains and losses," craving, motivation, and emotion regulation. These brain regions included the ventral tegmental area, the ventral striatum, the medial and lateral orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex, and the cingulate gyrus. "Activation of areas involved in cocaine addiction may help explain the obsessive behaviors associated with rejection in love," write Fisher and colleagues. Some of these behaviors include "mood swings, craving, obsession, compulsion, distortion of reality, emotional dependence, personality changes, risk-taking, and loss of self-control." Such traits have prompted some researchers to consider including love addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), together with other behavioral addictions, such as "gambling disorder, sex-addiction, compulsive buying," as well as addiction to exercise, work, or technology. Other scientists, by contrast, have taken a more temperate attitude to the issue of the addictive nature of love. #love #addiction #neurobiology #psychology #brain #medicine #doctor #dopamine #serotonin #oxytocin #emotions #compulsion #obsession - 4 days ago