Oxytocin makes the world go round. Well, it makes women fall in love, makes us pair bond. It’s a hormone released when we have an orgasm. (I’m simplifying radically here.) Go read this nifty Nature article.
For men, apparently it’s vasopressin that does the trick. Oxytocin and vasopressin are very similar molecules (nonapeptides with a sulphur bridge, if you’re interested); they differ only in the position of two amino acids. So it might not be too far fetched to think of someone coming up with a synthetic hormone that could work on both women and men. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Take a pill, fall in love. But, like all those fairy tales about love potions, unexpected consequences would be inevitable. What if you pop the pill and then open the door to the UPS guy? Plus, I think oxytocin is destroyed in the GI tract, so would have to be injected. Or sprayed up the nose. Or put in an eye-dropper.
The spray thing is interesting. Imagine a plane at 40,000 feet, a love terrorist running down the aisle spraying… I don’t think anyone’s done any experiments on polyamory and oxytocin. I don’t think they’ve experimented with cross-sexuality. Would a straight girl fall in love with her best friend? Would those married to other people not on the plane fall in love with the person they don’t know sitting next to them? Would any of these instant lovers choose to take the antidote when they landed? (Could a pilot who has just fallen insanely in love land a plane safely?) Would Government Scientists, in their Race Against the Clock, come up with the antidote In Time?? (In time for what?) What if the plane was Air Force One?
You tell me.
20 thoughts on “let’s get chemical, chemical (in honour of valentine’s day)”
I’ll just take a bucket load and give it a try. I’m in need of some lurve and have now reached the hungry stage. *drinks entire bucket* I’ll let you know how it goes. :-)
The thought of falling in love with most of the people I have sat next to on planes horrifies me.
Well– doesn’t MDMA do something similar? I’m under the impression that the positive feeling generated under its influence remain after the buzz dissipates.
<>steadycat<>, good luck to you. K and I are about to go drink a bucket of beer–at a certain alehouse you might be familiar with :)>><>chadao<>, oh, I am so with you on this! The scariest thing is that when we fall in love we find those disgusting habits cute. Ack.>><>mordicai<>, yes, but it’s more like the kind of positive feeling you have for someone you’ve laughed or cried with, rather than had delirious sex and ache to see again and in fact imagine around every corner and laugh senselessly at the thought of…
MDMA is similar, yes, but I agree — it’s rather more of hippie-love-after-effect. Lets sit together and watch the sun come up because we’re all part of this universe. One love. Amen.>>The 40,000 feet idea is a potential psychological disaster. The idea that I could be manipulated by a spray-can is not enticing at all. Nevermind the idea that my hormones can override my rational thinking processes in the blink of an eye. Oh – and back to MDMA – if the psychological after-effects of that amphetamine can still trigger a physical reaction years after you’ve last taken it, imagine what screwing around with hormones willy-nilly can potentially cause.
Ha! The polyamory experiment would be interesting…but it might get a bad rap if all the luv goes wrong. .sigh.>>After having flown today (and consequently trapped in Detroit for the night), I can easily say that falling in love with the teen girl next to me would be quite horrifying. >>I’m out to your end of the world, Nicola. I’ll be in Portland visiting all my best friends for the next week. .waves.
“If someone gave you a love potion and you fell in love, would you take the antidote?”>>I would love to say no…I mean, emotions are chemical reactions going off in your body. So what’s the harm in just adding another hormone or chemical or whatnot artificially, right? >>But I think I just might take the antidote (especially if I had to keep taking the potion for it to work) because I’d feel like if it didn’t happen on its own, it wouldn’t happen.>>That’s a really good question.
I don’t find the idea particularly appealing either – the I could be manipulated by a spray, but the fact remains that I am a finely tuned chemical machine. I function via chemical reaction all of the time. Why not control the chemicals as and when I want? >>You wouldn’t have to keep taking the potion for it to work, I don’t think Janine. Once the chemical sets off the effect, the attachment is there – the pathways are formed, the chemical would be produced by the body henceforth.>>If I could logically select a mate(s) first, then with consent mutually administer the spray, why not? Well, it just sounds like the fun has gone out of it.>>I haven’t heard of an experiment in cross-sexuality, but I have heard a researcher mention loving more than one partner as something we are certainly capable of — < HREF="http://www.helenfisher.com/about.html" REL="nofollow">Helen Fisher<>. She has done research in this area for many years. She identifies the chemicals differently tho.>>She says it is dopamine (along with norepinephrine and serotonin) that makes us fall in love (lasting 12-18 months). And oxytocin is actually responsible for long term attachment – such as in after procreation and the partners need to stay together to raise a child.>>‘Fisher maintains that humans have evolved three core brain systems for mating and reproduction: >>Lust—the sex drive or libido>Romantic attraction—romantic love>Attachment—deep feelings of union with a long term partner.>>“Love can start off with any of these three feelings,” Fisher maintains. “Some people have sex first and then fall in love. Some fall head over heels in love, then climb into bed. Some feel deeply attached to someone they have known for months or years; then circumstances change, they fall madly in love and have sex.” But the sex drive evolved to encourage you to seek a range of partners; romantic love evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time; and attachment evolved to enable you to feel deep union to this person long enough to rear your infants as a team.”>>But these brain systems can be tricky. Having sex, Fisher says, can drive up dopamine in the brain and push you over the threshold toward falling in love. And with orgasm, you experience a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin–giving you feelings of attachment. “Casual sex isn’t always casual” Fisher reports, “it can trigger a host of powerful feelings.” In fact, Fisher believes that men and women often engage in “hooking up” to unconsciously trigger these feelings of romance and attachment.”‘>>She also says that why we fall in love with one person vs another is a different issue. That’s what her latest research and newest book is about. She’s developed a personality test for compatibility (or something) for a dating company to help with her research. I took < HREF="http://www.chemistry.com/whyhimwhyher/" REL="nofollow">the test<>. I’m an explorer/director.>>There’s a video at < HREF="http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/helen_fisher_studies_the_brain_in_love.html" REL="nofollow">TED<> and another more recent one at < HREF="http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=6775422" REL="nofollow">ABC<> about the personality types.>>I know that article is talking about bonding, but I’m thinking it won’t work without the initial attraction/dopamine aspect.>>Pretty interesting stuff.
Let’s see if this works.
I buy the chemical theory to a certain extent, but right back at you. What about the unconscious? What about appearance? What about the erotic draw of the voice? Don’t ever take your tongue entirely out of your cheek. This was fun.
<>lynne<>, lynne, all emotions override rational thinking in the blink of an eye. Emotions aren’t rational, and we all have them. Life, it seems to me, isn’t about maintaining a rigid balance, it’s about being able to regain your balance quickly once lost.>><>janine<>, oh, god, I hadn’t even thought of creepy age differences! Eeew.>><>jennifer<>, they seem to think I’m a negotiator/explorer. Perhaps I’ll take it again…>><>barbara<>, I think appearance and smell and sound are the things that trigger the cascade that leads to lurve. And, yep, this is a lot of fun :) Thanks for playing.
Not necessarily. If all my emotions in 33 years had overridden my rational thinking, I’d be dead.>I’d tend to go for rigid balance, because several instances wouldn;t have afforded me the opportunity to regain anything :p
I’m talking split seconds–which is how both emotion and the subsconscious (which makes all our decisions) operate. Then we recover our equilibrium: we *don’t* smash the bottle in the arsehole’s face; we *don’t* simply pick up two pounds of chocolate and stuff it in our mouths. But we nearly do…
Negotiator, huh, Nicola? That’s kinda surprising; I wouldn’t have expected that to be your dominant thing. Did you do your usual method of playing with these tests?>>I did my usual thing of trying to answer as honestly as possible – especially since this one actually does have some science behind it. They definitely got me wrong about one aspect of the director thing tho – one of the traits is self disciplined. I’m definitely lacking in that area.
Nicola, I don’t think you should be chagrined to be a negotiator/explorer. I am one too, and the description hit the nail on my personal head. Of course we don’t know the exact definitions of negotiator, explorer and director. Jennifer, self discipline is definitely overrated!
barbara, jennifer, no chagrin. I yam what I yam. And, Jennifer, with regard to the discipline, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.
Hey I think it would be great to be a negotiator, but I don’t know what the description was. I was meaning it as a negative thing. There are only four types. The personality types are no new big thing, but the thing she does differently is associate the personality types with hormones. Explorer/director was dopamine/testosterone as I recall. What was negotiator?>>I wouldn’t mind having a dopamine spray while you’re passing around that oxcytocin…>>Sounds like a fun movie, btw.
I meant was NOT meaning is as negative…
No idea. I didn’t pay that much attention. But I was surprised to find ‘negotiator’ first, too. Perhaps it’s because they don’t have a ‘provocateur’ category…
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