Saturday, March 29, 2008


There's no mystery left. Dr. Frank Tallis has written a book called "Lovesick: Love as Mental Illness". Here is an excerpt from the preface:

"The symptoms of love are many and varied. What’s intriguing is that if we list them- for example, preoccupation with the loved one, tearfulness, euphoria- and check them against accepted diagnostic criteria for mental illness, we find that most ‘lovers’ qualify for diagnoses of obsessional illness, depression or manic depression. And this is no superficial relationship. Neurochemical and brain scanning investigations have shown a considerable overlap between ‘the brain in love’ and ‘the brain in the throes of mental illness’"

The other night, I said to a friend that even if we could explain everything with science, there would still be something ineffable, mysterious and transcendent about human experience. Though our feelings of love may simply be the effects of too much oxytocin, we still feel emotions. These emotions lead us to see the world and others in a different way. They may be "crazy", or be chemically induced, but does that render them less important or meaningful? No.

Dr. Andrew Newberg, in his book "Why God Won't Go Away" explains the neurochemical state of meditators. In a Q & A on his website, he states:" Our studies, as well as those of other investigators, have shown that meditation increases activity in the front part of the brain and decreases activity in the area of the brain that orients our bodies in space. . .The decreased activity in the orientation area is believed to be related to the changes in spatial perception and the loss of a sense of self that are associated with meditative states."

This sense of "loss of self" and changed spatial perception are the same phenomenon found in those we call "lovesick". In both, the meditator who feels the exhilaration of a new found expansiveness and oneness with the universe or the lover who finds a oneness with the beloved - can we say these are illusions only because they can be "explained away" by chemicals? Absolutely not. Altered states can show us things we would otherwise not experience.

This is one of those moments where I want to opt out of an intellectual point that I'm trying to make. I am lazy. I don't have the intellectual rigor it takes to, shall we say, close the deal. I may be prone to debate, but when the going gets rough, I'd rather walk away. As my father says (accusingly), I am just a ruminator.

I like to chew on thoughts. I don't really care if I'm "right or wrong". I don't care if you agree or not, either. Ideas are like grass to this cow and I need to graze in the field of ideas. My words are, then. . .what? Excrement? I didn't know I'd wind up here when I wrote "Lovesick" in the title. Hmmm.

Aromatherapy: I am still in love with the perfume Passage D'enfer and had to scrub off some lotion a friend asked me to try, Demeter's "Fiery Curry". I only want to smell the L'artisan scent. I keep smelling my wrists. Is Passage D'enfer a good substitute for an anti-depressant drug for me?

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