The Symptoms of Love

The heart symbolizes love and all the science behind it!

The heart symbolizes love and all the science behind it!

Bailey Heaton, staffer

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The great philosopher, Plato, teacher of Aristotle and student of Socrates, once said, “Love is a serious mental disease.” Like a mental disease, love’s symptoms mostly affect the brain. Mental illnesses can shift one’s mood or personality, as can love. Because of love, the increased production of hormones can cause mood shifts and a fluctuation in intelligence.

The hypothalamus’ role in producing hormones such as dopamine, norepinephrine, estrogen/testosterone, and oxytocin can cause mood shifts (Wu).  Love, “accompanied by jealousy, erratic behavior, and irrationality…” causes common mood shifts (Wu). Because an equation of lust, attraction, and attachment equals love, each category of love creates its own side effects or mood shifts (Wu). Lust’s objective of sexual gratification means the production of sex hormones in the sex organs. The production of these sex hormones causes a mood shift to a mood of sexual desire. Because attachment builds strong relationships, the production of oxytocin (Wu) allows a person in love to foster the feelings of “calm, security, social comfort, and emotional union” (Fisher). Attraction, which occurs to save mating energy and to allow a person to acknowledge potential mates, causes the production of dopamine and norepinephrine (Fisher). Once the domino-like cycle of attraction begins, the levels of dopamine increase, causing the lowering of serotonin levels, which ultimately leads to a shift in mood, appetite, or sleeping patterns (Wu). Also, because of love’s often characterization as paradise or heavenly, the bliss of it can make the actions that normally make one irritable, seem less annoying because of the blind bliss that love produces (Lipton and Sandella).

 Because of lust (one of the three categories that love), and its increased hormone production, the sexual attraction can cause a constant change in intelligence. Lust, typically associated with “Sexual arousal…appears to turn off regions in our brain that regulate critical thinking, self-awareness, and rational behavior…” which proves that love can, in fact, decrease intelligence (Wu). Although love can cause higher creativity levels and emotional states, lust still lowers the ability to focus, therefore it impairs certain cognitive skills (Fugere). However, the hormones excreted by the hypothalamus due to love and sexual arousal do not only cause a decrease in intelligence, they can also cause an increase in intelligence. Sex, in particular, can make a person smarter (Fugere). Dopamine, a hormone excreted during attraction and sex, helps with cognitive skills such as memory. This help with cognitive skills can cause an increase in intelligence.

Plato’s idea of a “serious mental disease”, of love may include the symptoms of nervousness, sweaty palms, and stuttering, which all point back to the brain and its mysterious ways. Because of love, many hormones produced by the hypothalamus may increase, leading to changes and fluctuations in mood or intelligence, explaining the chemistry behind your chemistry!