Because I’m kind of a nerd, I like to spend my evenings streaming talks given at the annual TED conference. (TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design, but it’s actually much broader than that.)
The last one I watched was by Helen Fisher who studies romantic love by placing love struck people into MRI machines. It’s a brilliant talk that manages to encompass the whole history of women’s emancipation (which she considers a return to our egalitarian hunter-gatherer past) along with insights into where we may be going with respect to romantic love.
I highly recommend watching the whole thing.
But the really eerie part comes in at around 18 minutes where she talks about antidepressants and their effect on dopamine levels. Dopamine, it turns out, is a critical component of our sensation of intense romantic love. Antidepressants suppress dopamine. Fisher worries that the rise in anti-depressant usage will mean fewer people will be capable of falling in love. And to quote her show-stopping sentence:
“A world without love is a deadly place.”
Could it be true? Are we medicating ourselves out of love?