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Trail: love



and i believe in love
and i know you

I’ve forgotten the words with which to tell you. I knew them once,
but I’ve forgotten them, and now I’m talking to you without them.
Unlikely as it may seem, I’m not the kind of woman who gives herself
up body and soul to the love of one person, even the person who’s
dearest to her in the whole world. I am someone who’s unfaithful. I
wish I could find the words I laid aside, to tell you that. And now
some of them are coming back to me. I wanted to tell you what I
think, which is that one always ought to keep oneself a place, yes,
that’s the word, a private place, where one can be alone and love. To
love one knows not what, not whom, nor how, nor for how long. To
love. . . now all the words are coming back . . . To set aside a
place inside oneself to wait, you never know, to wait for a love,
perhaps for a love without a person attached to it yet, but for that
and only that. For love. I wanted to tell you you were what I had
waited for. You alone became the outer surface of my life, the side I
never see, and you will be that, the unknown part of me, until I

MargueriteDuras ~ “Emily L.”

“All that Christ says to us by way of a little warning is that every moment should be beautiful, that the soul should always be ready for the coming of the Bridegroom, always waiting for the voice of the Lover. Philistinism being simply that side of man’s nature that is not illuminated by the imagination, he sees all the lovely influences of life as modes of Light: the imagination itself is the world-light: the world is made by it, and yet the world cannot understand it: that is because the imagination is simply a manifestation of Love, and it is love, and the capacity for it, that distinguishes one human being from another.” - Oscar Wilde, De Profundis


New love can look for all the world like mental illness, a blend of mania, dementia and obsession that cuts people off from friends and family and prompts out-of-character behavior - compulsive phone calling, serenades, yelling from rooftops - that could almost be mistaken for psychosis. Now for the first time, neuroscientists have produced brain scan images of this fevered activity, before it settles into the wine and roses phase of romance or the joint holiday card routines of long-term commitment.

In an analysis of the images appearing today in The Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers in New York and New Jersey argue that romantic love is a biological urge distinct from sexual arousal. It is closer in its neural profile to drives like hunger, thirst or drug craving, the researchers assert, than to emotional states like excitement or affection. As a relationship deepens, the brain scans suggest, the neural activity associated with romantic love alters slightly, and in some cases primes areas deep in the primitive brain that are involved in long-term attachment. The research helps explain why love produces such disparate emotions, from euphoria to anger to anxiety, and why it seems to become even more intense when it is withdrawn.

“As it turns out, romantic love is probably best
characterized as a motivation or goal-oriented state
that leads to various specific emotions, such as
euphoria or anxiety,” Aron noted. “With this view, it
becomes clearer why the lover expresses such an
imperative to pursue his or her beloved and protect
the relationship.”

Our findings show that the brain areas activated when
someone looks at a photo of their beloved only
partially overlap with the brain regions associated
with sexual arousal. Sex and romantic love involve
quite different brain systems.”

(1) early stage, intense romantic love is associated
with subcortical reward regions rich with dopamine;
and (2) romantic love engages brain systems associated
with motivation to acquire a reward.

Helen E. Fisher, a research anthropologist at Rutgers
University, New Jersey, noted that not only did the
brain change as romantic love endured, but that some
of these changes were in regions associated with
pair-bonding in prairie voles. The fMRI images showed
more activity in the ventral pallidum portion of the
basal ganglia in people with longer romantic
relationships. It’s in this region where receptors for
the hormone vasopressin are critical for vole
pair-bonding, or attachment.
“Humans have evolved three distinct but interrelated
brain systems for mating and reproduction – the sex
drive, romantic love, and attachment to a long term
partner,” Fisher said, “and our results suggest how
feelings of romantic love might change into feelings
of attachment. Our results support what people have
always assumed – that romantic love is one of the most
powerful of all human experiences. It is definitely
more powerful than the sex drive.”

For instance, Fisher point out, “If someone rejects
your sexual overtures, you don’t harm yourself or the
other person. But rejected men and women in societies
around the world sometimes kill themselves or someone
else. In fact, studies indicate that some 40% of
people who are rejected in love slip into clinical
depression. Our study may also suggest some of the
underlying physiology of stalking behavior,” she

Source and funding

The study, “Reward, motivation and emotion systems
associated with early-stage intense romantic love,” is
available online and will be in the July issue of the
Journal of Neurophysiology, published by the American
Physiological Society.