Sunday, March 10, 2002

LOVE STORY: How can you not want to read a book called A General Theory Of Love? Lynn O'Connor at the Human Nature Daily Review gives it a good review; it sounds intriguing for those of us intrigued by psychobabble:

Therapists from contemporary, “relational” persuasions concern themselves with the patient’s unconscious interacting with the therapist’s unconscious. In A General Theory of Love, Lewis et al. demystify this phenomenon; they describe the patient's limbic system connecting to the therapist’s limbic system, its that part of the unconscious mind interacting. The authors, in their discussion of the limbic system, the center of the emotions, and the unconscious mind make clear that they are not referring to the Freudian unconscious, that maladaptive “cauldron” of aggressive and sexual impulses. Nor do they give credence to the Freudian theory of personality development, psychopathology or psychotherapy. Instead they are speaking of the highly adaptive and prosocial cognitive unconscious, including both the cortex and limbic system, both of which are interacting in therapy and all other intense human relationships, and most centrally in mothers and children.

It sounds like some kind of retro-Freudianism in blaming your childhood for your problems, but they locate the source differently, in the limbic system. More:

Second only to the mother and child connection, they focus on the adult marital or partner bond. It may be that we have far more limbic connections going all the time than is suggested. In recent research on women's use of one another to reduce stress and in reaction to external difficulties, it is demonstrated that this leads to less stress hormones than are found in men in reaction to for example, job stressors. While men tend to withdraw, isolate and suffer from a surge of stress hormones, women congregate and bond. It is suggested that this may lead to longer lives, as well as to more immediate comfort to say nothing of less stress related neurochemistry. I would imagine that in some cultures in which romantic love is not what brings people together in the marriage union, and where strong attachments are to more than a marriage partner, the need for limbic attachment is still being tended to. I'm suggesting that love exists in a myriad of human relationships. While our culture may be sick in its denigration of limbic attachment between for example, female platonic friends, or men who like to talk about feelings with their buddies, nevertheless many women and men find ways to get around this, or simply ignore it.

One more book for the "read this" list. One of the Amazon reviewers sums it up thusly: "An attempt to bring neuroscience to bear on love. Not particularly rigorous, but charming in its efforts. One of its main points- that love is very much a physical (body to body) phenomenon, is not very original but well told. And I find the phrase 'limbic brain resonance' strangely poetic."

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