A collaborative blog post from the Neuropsych major:
What exactly is love?
Honestly, it is something that can not be defined, but today, our Neuropsychology class attempted to figure out what exactly this emotion was. Because think about it, love is universal: may it be the love for your family, the love for your friends, or the love for your romantic partner. While we admit there is something magical about the emotion, we learned that most of it is a biochemical reaction that takes place in the brain. “Love” is comprised of the chemicals serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and adrenaline that is released to help you feel excited, loved, happy and miss them. When placed in an fMRI, specific parts of individuals’ brains light up in a way to prove everything psychological is also biological.
How we love is shaped by different possible attachment styles, which is how we bonded and interacted with our primary caregivers – people can have a secure, avoidant or anxious attachment style. An attachment style is a theory that proposes that the relationship we have with our caregivers as an infant will influence our adult relationships. Children who have a secure attachment style with their primary caregiver will have a trusting and satisfying romantic adult relationship with their partner. Conversely, those with avoidant attachment style were normally neglected as children, and tend to grow up to avoid closeness with anyone, and those with anxious attachment styles tend to be more possessive and jealous in their adult relationships.
Different attachment styles are predicted early on by putting the child and caregiver in a Strange Situation. The baby and caregiver are placed in an unfamiliar room with toys and after a certain time the mother leaves the room and returns. If the baby roams freely throughout the room and is easily comforted once the mother returns she is showing secure attachment style. However if the baby does not exhibit anxiety both when the mother is there or not there and does not have a preference with who their caregiver is, it is known as an avoidant attachment style. And finally, if the baby is anxious while the mother is away and can’t be comforted by her when she is back, the baby has an anxious attachment style with his mother.
Today, overall, we learned a lot about the science of love, different attachment styles and how we, ourselves fit into the spectrum. We concluded with the idea that negatively influential attachment theories and harmful experiences can be overcome with logic and a change of mindset, which can be achieved with the help of therapy. So what exactly is love?