True Love, Romantic Love, Serotonin Levels


In the Western world we have for centuries concocted poems and stories and plays about the cycles of love, the way it morphs and changes over time, the way passion grabs us by our flung-back throats and then leaves us for something saner. If Dracula—the frail woman, the sensuality of submission—reflects how we understand the passion of early romance, the Flintstones reflects our experiences of long-term love: All is gravel and somewhat silly, the song so familiar you can’t stop singing it, and when you do, the emptiness is almost unbearable.

We have relied on stories to explain the complexities of love, tales of jealous gods and arrows. Now, however, these stories—so much a part of every civilization—may be changing as science steps in to explain what we have always felt to be myth, to be magic. For the first time, new research has begun to illuminate where love lies in the brain, the particulars of its chemical components.

Source: True Love

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  • Scott Hutson


    I find it very interesting that the Frontal Lobe is the area where " Love Lies in The Brain". Just another step foreward for Me. Great post!


    • Jeff

      Glad you liked the article. I found it to be fascinating and thought it was appropriate for Valentine's Day. And please…do NOT shy away from tackling that Banana Chocolate turnover. The first time I made them they looked awful but, damn, they tasted great!!

  • Paradigm Of Thought

    I always found it interesting on how attraction first happens. When we are attracted to an individual our brain releases Dopamine and Dorepinephrine, and then lowers serotonin. Which in any other case this order of brain function is indicator of insanity. So from the beginning love is insanity.

    But, on the other hand, I don't think the fact that love is a neuro-chemical response in any way takes away from it. Thinking about it, it doesn't make it feel less good because it's not magical. But I guess that is more of an opinion than anything.

    • Jeff

      Paradigm, I agree with you…the fact that it has a chemical basis doesn't take away from its "magical" properties. But here's the problem I can't wrap my head around. As I sit here writing this, my IPod sits on my desk. My IPod is an object made up of, well, chemicals. "Love" is also, sort of, made up of chemicals. So if I pretend for a brief moment that the IPod has the same chemical composition as "Love" and I pick up the IPod with my hand, can I really say "This is what love feels like?" Is Love a mere epiphenomenon, a byproduct of a physical process? It doesn't feel like it…that's for sure!

  • Scott Hutson

    Yep and computers snore in the middle of the night, and get grumpy when ya de-frag em, and they can’t cook worth a……

    • Jeff

      My very first computer was a Tandy 1000 <img src=""&gt; and boy was that computer grumpy. I used to believe that the computer got lonely and it required me to open it up…push all the memory chips into their sockets, dust out the inside of the case and..voila…it would run great. All it needed was a little attention. (Hey…maybe it had an attention deficit <heheheheh> )

      • Scott Hutson

        Ha! They do need attn! Come over here and I’ll let ya in on a little secret>………………(if I push the right button, it gets er turned on, and might even get a LapTop Dance);)

        • Jeff

          Hmmm…maybe you can tell me in a private email the brand of laptop you purchased? :D

  • Paradigm of Thought


    Pardon me for my candor, but feel in this situation is a mistake of nomenclature. This is due to the limitations of the english language, we use the same words (like hurt, feel) for emotional use as well as sensory information. So I'd imagine if the components in your iPod was Dopamine, Dorepinephrine and Serotonin than maybe that is how love would feel (but it would really be more like a gooey mess (giggity)) , But I tend to think of us as like computers. Through that very iPod is a series of capacitors, grids, etc. and these cool little images that we see on these iPods is simply that. A series of signals, routed through capacitors, grids and wires. This does not make the picture less pretty, that's just how it works.

    Same with us, our thoughts are simply wiring through a grid of axons and dendrites to create this "pretty picture" we call thought. Emotions are simply neurotransmitters that connect with these axons and dendrites. It doesn't make them less real any more than that picture on your iPod is less real because it is simply energy going through wiring.

    I hope this statement wasn't as convoluted as it seems when I'm speaking it out loud. I'm just saying that it may be hard to wrap our head around, but if we think of ourselves as simply walking talking iPods (Which is what this world will become in say the next 15 years), then I think it makes it simpler.

    • Jeff

      Paradigm, would you be surprised if I said I disagreed? First..I'm going to agree with you. You are correct that it is a problem of nomenclature but does love feel like a mish-mash of chemicals? Before you react…let's jump to your description of people as computers…I think that will best illustrate the problem.

      To think of people as being like a computer is to reduce – actually eliminate – the human experience. When a computer adds up two numbers…does the computer know that that's what it's doing? This is an important issue. The computer has no intentionality, no purpose. The computer does not know that it is adding two numbers to serve a particular purpose. The computer, at bottom, is just manipulating ones and zeroes at a very high speed. But even at gigahertz speeds, the computer still doesn't know that it is adding up two numbers. The point is that something very important gets lost when we reduce human experience to fit the computer metaphor. And so…my original point is that it is difficult to do the same with dopamine and love. Does dopamine "know" what it is doing? Not likely.

      I'd recommend checking out the book "Why the mind is not a computer: a pocket lexicon of neuromythology." Here's the link to version that's on Google books:

  • Paradigm of Thought


    Well, would you be surprised if I said, not at all? This is a classic debate. Whether we are simply machines, or if there is something more. I think that this is a classic idea that has been going on for a long time, and it will go on still a long time after this.

    While, I have to say, maybe comparing us to an iPod is a tad simplistic, but we are large machines. While I understand we are much more complicated than a personal computer (If you wanted the processing power of a human you would need 6 empire state buildings, full to the brim of servers that are say at least a terabyte in processing capabilities alone, each), that still doesn't mean we don't share characteristics.

    If we were not machines, we would find a distinct difference in how information is transmitted. Meaning our brain would not work like circuit theory works, where a series of electronic signals moves through series of passage ways using particular mediums (like capacators) to direct the energy. In the brain we find it's pretty much the same. The energy, in the form neurotransmitters move through neural passageways in the brain, using axons and dendrites (The brain's mediums) in order to transfer information. This takes the form of pretty pictures (Thoughts), basic hardware functioning and power supply (Control of major organs, and transmission flow through the body) advanced sound, voice and facial recognition systems (The parential lobe, the occipital lobe, and broca's area, respectively) , a kind of poor optics system (The eyes), a great microphone and speaker set (The eyes and the vocal cords) even cooling systems (Sweating, panting). Plus we run low on bandwidth (We get tired), we crash (Pass out, black out, or "brain farts") we get viruses and go haywire (get sick or go crazy) and even get hacked (See group thought). But good news, he have also advanced troubleshooting techniques, like white blood cells, an advanced logic processing system, as well as pretty good potentiometer in our ears to keep us from falling over. Plus, if you notice, like operating system, the new generations are getting faster, a whole lot harder to work with, and they don't work half the time. (Generation Y is the new Vista.)

    I understand we want to believe in the Cartesian or Existential belief that we are more than dendrites and axons and hormones. But there's no evidence to support this claim. There is however and ABUNDANCE of evidence that all thought is is simply neurotransmitters going through our brain.

    You argue how can dopamine be aware. Simple answer is it can't. That is like asking how an electron can show us pretty pictures. With out the computer it can't. But the point of your argument is how can we be aware, if we are just machines? Forgive Asimovian approach, but isn't it possible that we are simply aware because there is enough material, axons and dendrites to make us aware? Could "humanity" just not be a Ghost in the Machine?

    - Paradigm of Thought.

    • Jeff's just about midnight and…I'm running low on bandwidth…but…you raise this point:

      "I understand we want to believe in the Cartesian or Existential belief that we are more than dendrites and axons and hormones. But there's no evidence to support this claim."

      I believe that the debate we are having right now is proof that we are something more than dendrites and hormones. Now…I'm not a believer in the incorporeal so let's stay away mind/body dualism. However, we need to be cautious in our reductionism. If we say that we are just complex machines…then…heck…we're no better than a frakkin' toaster. (In case you are not a Battlestar Galactica fan, they refer to the robots – known as Cylons – as toasters…in essence…just an appliance.… Being an appliance, they don't think twice about killing them. ) I don't think that's really what you want to say or imply and I don't think we would really want to lose the "human" part of the human experience.

      Before going further with this…I highly recommend you check out the book that I mentioned. You can probably get a good sense of it from Google books. I would love to then debate some of the finer points of that book.

      • Paradigm of Thought


        Kudos on the Battlestar reference, I didn't expect a SciFi reference today.

        This discussion is becoming quite fun, and who knows it might be the start of a nice debate, but before I pursue further, I will take your advice and read the book given to me, if only for the sake of objectivity (or subjectivity, whatever the case may be). But I have to say after my first glance, I'm a little unimpressed by it. But who knows, I may change my mind upon completion of the book, it certainly wouldn't be the first time.

        - Paradigm of Thought

        • Jeff

          I'll warn you…the book is real dry reading and there really isn't any need to read all of it. I would say that you should just read enough to get a good sense of what he is arguing for and, of course…what he is arguing against. In a nutshell…he is arguing against reductionism and wants us to be very wary of anything that slips from "LIKE" to "IS." That's the danger when using metaphors and forgetting that they *are* metaphors. (See this post: )

  • Scott Hutson

    Love, Serotonin,Computers,…… I understand how all these can tie together and be used as examples to understand the way our brains react to the stimulation/spark that cause us to feel a certain way. But emotions(anger,love.happiness,,,etc). cannot be installed,downloaded…That would be impossible. If it could be, then the one good thing for a computer is at least "it" would know who created "it".

    • Scott Hutson

      My last comment referred to computers cannot have human emotions installed,etc…But the human brain can have meds installed,but the download cannot be saved, but opened, until the effects wear off. Certain types of Love are installed when we are born. Who installed them doesn't matter when it comes to those kind of Love.(whole diff. subject). But being Loved Romantically, I think plays a significant role in Loving a person Romantically.

      I am enjoying the back and forth replies You two(Jeff and Paradigm) are having about this, and I don't want to interupt that. I find it very interesting and will just watch and learn now. :)

      • Paradigm of Thought

        Don't worry about interruption. I always enjoy your input, Scott. I have not had time to start on my actual response on the idea that we are hardware, and hopefully I can make it available soon (however, it being finals week isn't going to help any).

        I've noticed there is quite a stir about my comment that we are basically computers. What I would like to point out is that is simply metaphorical, in the sense that we aren't copper or platinum grids, and we aren't simply as computers are. I would like to clarify that my argument is that we are simply hardware, nothing more.

        • Scott Hutson

          Paradigm, Sounds good to me, I think the comparisons are a good way to explain the way neurotransmission works in our brains. Also my knowlege of the electronics is….Well better to say lack of knowlege, when computers are discussed is at this time limited. But I am learning some things about it, via of these comments. I can see the revelence as it pertains this post.

          Finals week…..I understand. I have even said to my daughter that it would be so cool to be able to just put a link she finds on her computer, in her brain, and open it when she takes tests,gives presentations and so on….She just rolls her eyes and says, Yeah okay Dad, I’ll try that next time……and grins at me.

          • Paradigm of Thought

            I want a link to a computer in my brain…

            All joking aside, I will particularly look forward to your response, because most of my planned argument will have to do with comparisons of brain structures to the workings of electronics. Hope to see you on the chopping block!

            - Paradigm of Thought

        • Jeff

          I look forward to your clarification. Good luck on your finals.

  • Paradigm of Thought

    And I look forward to your response, Jeff. Thank you for the encouragement!

    - Paradigm of Thought

  • 18channels

    The first time my sweetheart invited me over to his house, he made me a banana chimichanga (hey…it was a dessert…get outta the sleeze lane!). Shockingly delicious…he lit it on fire…dressed it with chocolate…highly recommend for romantic evenings :)

    As for true love…he and I have discussed this many times now…he really is a believer in true love. I'm uh…well let's just say I'm a little more cynical. I'm squishy, I love being in love…but I have a pretty intense bullshit detector and people who try to woo me with classic "romance" basically piss me off. That is, until Mr. Banana Chimichanga came along. He's made me appreciate loooooove all over again :) Just sayin…oh NO…NOT TRUE LOVE…that's a stupid concept that people use themselves to make things seem super duper magical that probably shouldn't be. But real, good love? The kind that happens over banana chimichangas and sweet overtures of sweetness that aren't the fake kind? Oh yes…good times.

    My personal explanation is not true love. It's "my personal chemistry set and yours complement one another nicely".

    • Jeff

      Sounds like a GREAT DESSERT!! He's gotta send me that recipe (with pictures) so I can post it here for the world to see. And I agree with you about the concept of "true love." It has a fatalistic overtone that makes me cringe. But as Susan Mayer from "Desperate Housewives" once said, there's the type of love that makes sense – from a logical standpoint – and love that hits you like a thunderbolt. I've experienced both. That thunderbolt is akin to "true love."

  • 18channels

    I'm sure he'd be happy to share the secrets of his banana chimichanga with you…note to self…

    Sonny Rollins and I definitely have the thunderbolt kind. It's refreshing…it's been a while :)

    • Jeff

      As you already know, please use only secure channels for transferring chimichanga data. ;)

  • Paradigm of Though

    Hello, Jeff, I apologize for how long it has taken to respond to your post. Because of the overwhelming length that that the article has become, plus several personal matters that have arisen between now and two months ago, it has taken me longer than I calculated to even get the first part on paper. However, I have begun a new series of article on my website, and I believe you will find them of interest.

    I Human. Part I – The Human Machine.

  • OldSchool

    Nice job ripping off Lauren Slater’s 1969 article “Love”

    • Jeffs ADD Mind

      I quoted 165 words from a 5500 word article. That hardly constitutes
      “ripping off.” However…when I find an entire post of mine appearing
      on another blog, THAT is an example of “ripping off.”

  • OldSchool

    Whoops I mean Lauren Slaters 2006 article “Love”

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