Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Love?
What is love? Humans have been trying to explain the mystery of love since the beginning of time. Writers write about it, singers sing about it, philosophers philosophise about it, and poets lament and celebrate it. The love quotes from Shakespeare alone number in their thousands. In the 1980's the band Roxy Music sang about love being a drug, and Robert Palmer hit the right note when he sang 'you're gonna have to face it you're addicted to love...' Anyone that can remember those songs, may well have forgotten what the symptoms of love are, so here's a reminder.
♥ Feeling 'high', with inflated self-esteem and this can lead to overspending and extravagant gift giving.
♥ Crying a lot
♥ Loss of concentration
♥ Problems sleeping
♥ Racing pulse and high blood pressure
♥ Pain in the chest and heart
♥ Sentimental and over attachment to things that remind you of events or the person you are in love with
♥ Upset stomach and not wanting to eat
♥ Feeling dizzy and confused.
Neurobiologists define love
It seems the neurobiologists agree with both Roxy Music and Robert Palmer, and they have defined love as a complex interaction of chemical systems in the brain that are similar to addiction. However, new research shows that being lovesick may also be a form of OCD.
A study carried out at the University of Pisa in Italy looked at the chemical levels in the brains of new lovers and compared them with the chemical levels in the brains of patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Results showed that the profiles of the two groups were very similar. The key imbalance seems to be low levels of the mood regulating hormone serotonin. The good news for lovers is that when the 'in love' volunteers were tested a year later, the imbalance had redressed itself.
The bad news is that the love addiction doesn't necessarily have to involve another human being. There have been reported cases of people being in love with and marrying animals (goat, dog, cat and even a snake) and buildings (Berlin wall, Eiffel Tower). Computer game characters have been the focal points for unrequited love for a long time and in 2009, a Japanese man became the first person to marry the love of his life, computer game character Nene.
Where will it end?
As robots become more human-like and sophisticated, surely the chances of falling in love with a perfect partner robot get higher? The religious community is getting very hot under the dog collar over this - and they haven't even had time to cool off over the same sex marriage discussions yet.
A drug to cure a broken heart.
It seems that as with many other things, there may be a genetic component to love. A study carried out in China linked a variant of a particular 5-HT1A gene with an increased propensity to fall in love. There could be a pharmaceutical answer to the great love problem - a drug that targets the chemical imbalance of the love addiction. Imagine, if only you could cure a broken heart...
... but then where would the poetry, the music, the works of art of the future come from?