Tag Archives: John Bowlby

The Darker Side of Valentines: On Vulnerability and Parting

This Friday is the 14th of February –- the arrival of the annual Romantic Love Fest. I thought that gave us the perfect opportunity to look at the darker side of Love.

ImageHow come Love can make you crazy when it goes away? How come it hurts so much – literally, physically hurts? Heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, stomach churning, uncontrollable crying? Why do we have such extreme reactions?

I know this is a question that has vexed poets for centuries. Nonetheless, here goes an answer: For us humans, deeply social creatures that we are, the brain really is in pain upon separation. Experiments using brain scans, such as fMRI, have now shown that the same areas of the brain are activated when a person feels social pain as when he or she feels physical pain. The evolution of the human brain has led it to process sensory and emotional pain using the same neural circuits. Continue reading