Love gives you wings

Love gives you wings?

While I was sitting in the waiting room of the dentist I read a part of the following article, I was there with a terrible toothache and as a happy ending one of my moulders was extracted.

Love gives wings

The article I finished reading on the internet and it was published in Dutch in 2004 (that F**king old news) what you find by the dentist.

This is how the article starts:
‘It was beautiful weather about 13 degrees, wind in the back’, These things Nijboer remembers after he has beaten the record on the Dutch marathon. ‘Furthermore I just graduated and met my girlfriend who is now my wife. These kind of circumstances you can’t just create. But they are giving you wings.’ If you should believe all the writers of poëtic popsongs, is Nijboer not the only one, who is struck by love and all other things seem to go better in life. Bryan Adams (When the feeling’s right, I can run all night) until Whitney Houston, from The Olsen Brothers until Chris Norman, the wings of love should by many of us sweep us up to severe hights. Is love giving us wings ? And how are these wings working?

About the deepest functions of love and falling in love can higher educated people have total different opinions. For many of them it is clear: In the end – Think about Darwins opinion – the love is only there to keep the species a life. ‘Being in love is hanging strongly together with sexual desire’, says Cas Wouters, professor sociology from the University Utrecht. Being head over heals is in this approach of love the engine that turns the sexual behavior on, with as a result reproduction of the species. Others see for love a roll of freedom in it. The romantic love, has according to them, in the biggest part of history love was playing a secondary roll in life. Especially when it came to reproduction ‘The strong combination between love and reproduction of the species is only about a century old’, says seksuoligist and psychotherapist Carolien Roodvoets, author of "Nu alleen de liefde nog", (Now only the love still) a selfhelpbook for single females above thirty years of age.

Melting together with a partner
‘In the prehistoric times women were just in between fertilized, as dogs and horses do it just happens’, says Roodvoets. Marriages, she analysed, were not there because of love, but more for the sake of economic interests or power proportions. ‘The love has maybe always been there but it was never the switch to be hit for sex.’ But , it was there in the interest of reproduction, the need for love can be as strong as the need for food or sleep, believes also Roodvoets. ‘Every human being suffers of existentiël lonelyness’, she thinks. ‘the love can ease the pain a bit.’

It sounds like the Eros-mythe of Aristophanes, were Plato wrote about. The prehistoric human has united according to this story both genders. But when they threatened the gods because they thought they were surpreme, Zeus cut the human beings into two. Since then we are all looking for our better half. ‘The desire to melt together with their partner, is the heart of love’, thinks Roodvoets. The question is: does it get us to greater hights?

Who goes looking for the hard proof about stimulating side effects of the human falling in love, will not find much, barely nothing: poëts, philosphers en romantics, and in a lesser way also the alfa- en gammascientists have all told their tales, but in the exact, biomedical science the subject is not really worked out. Although this is not that surprizing: Being in love is a distinctive function that can be very difficult to test on guinnee pigs. And with living humans it is tricky to experiment, if they are being in love or not. Also because pharmaceutic companies are not looking yet for a “fall in love pill”, therefore we are missing money and motivation for a large scaled investigation in this field.

Theoretics about love
Still there is a lack of theoretics about the biochemical ground of the loving feeling, and the effects that they are having on our functioning around it. The most popular theory is speaking about having any doubt and calls it ‘the molecule of love’, also known as phenylethylamine, a small amfetamine kind of molecuul that de brain can make herself.

According to the followers of this theory is phenylethylamine forming(in English shorted to PEA) the first and central link in a finetuned network of signals who are steering the body when it is heavily in love. A shot PEA in the brain would be the starting signal for making the hormones like dopamine, adrenaline en noradrenaline, all with their own stimulating and braking effects.

Dopamine, for example, is a brain hormone that is closely involved by pleasurable and even euforic feelings, due to the fact that stimulating side of it has effect on the ‘rewarding centre’ of the brain.- this centre plays a big role by addicted persons. That dopamine can influence sexual behavior comes out when Parkinson disease patients are getting short of dopamine and this is filled in with dopamine from outside: the sexual drive and desire can strongly rise after the insertion of dopamine.

Adrenaline in the centre?
In the centre of the boosting workout of being ‘head over heals’ it could be formed by the hormone adrenaline. This hormone prepares – not only by being in love, but also by fear- the muscles in the body for action, if needed the body can preform optimal. The vains are getting narrow, de heartfrequence and the bloodpressure are rising, the congestion is running on low and the sences and the brain are being on extra alert – all ready to get in action fast and sharp when ever needed.

The discovery of small amounts of PEA in cacao and chocolate gave these populair theory the last few years the extra fuel. On several internetsites you can read that PEA declares why some persons after a disappointment in love fully get in the grip of chocolate bars – all to get enough of this stuff into the brain, although it is clear that PEA already in the bowels is dismantled and due to that – unfortunately – never will reach the brain.

In reality, says endocrinologist Focko Rommerts from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, en theorys like this have to be taken not to serious. About the central rol of PEA by love is as a matter of the fact less known than that they all say or write, he explains. ‘After the first articles published about this subject has everybody made his own opinion about the substance. The reality is that we not know that much about the hormonal changes during the time that we are falling in love.’

Matter of hormones
Our body make continiusly dozens of hormones, declares Rommerts, which anyway all react on eachother. It is not that easy to pinpoint the hormone which is responsible for what it is exactly doing. An extra complicated factor is that many hormones on different places in the body give total different effects. ‘In the vains fishing for elements in the hope to discover how love is working, is as hopeless as looking through the garbage of a restaurant to find out what yesterdays guests had for diner’, this is how Rommerts recapitulates the problem for endocrinologists. Probably it will be proven, he presumpts, that many of the hormones playing one roll at the same time, ‘because if it was only one, we had closed this case a long time ago.’

A few years ago the young Swiss neurobiologist Andreas Bartels, then still a doctoral student in London, but in the meantime working at the Max Planck-institute for Biological Cybernetics in the German city of Tübingen, was turning it another way around. He decided to find out about the biological secret behind the love by taking a different route, a kind of following the tracks. Together with his professor, Semir Zeki ,Bartels traced volunteers that, after their own telling, were really insanely “head over heals about someone”.Out of seventy people that reacted were seventeen selected by the doctoral student as test persons, average age was 23 years old. The ones that were chosen had during the interview been ‘dripping in’ loving feelings.

The chosen turtle doves were placed in a machine that with the help of magnetic waves every few seconds was making pictures of their brain. Half of the experiment was that they looked at a friends picture, nothing special. But the other half was melting away by looking at the laughing faced picture of the love of their life.

Activated braincentres
After measuring the two scientists deducted the two series from eachother and reconstructed it as one average set of brains. The result was a functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI), a picture that shows in one flash of the eye, which parts of the brain are using relative a lot of oxygen and which ones use just a little oxygen on the moment that the picture was shown of the one they where head over heals with.

The brains section that lighted up, tells Bartels, are centres that are also being involved by other positive emotions, and are being part of the already named rewarding centre. Other braincentres, involved by negative feelings and social disapproving, seemed to be on non active when they looked at the picture of their love – who said that love does not make you blind?

The activated centres, Bartels remarkably finds out that they, have nerve cells where we know from that they are very sensitive for two hormones: oxitocine en vasopressine. Both of them are in the last few years, especially in experiments with mice, being brought in connection more often with the drive to strong social matingbonds that will be formed, like the bond between the mother and the newborn child of the bond between two adult animals.

Love as encouragement
Here brings the brain explorer the falling in love investigation through a couple of spectacular brainpictures us back to the hormones – although they are not looking like anything anymore that gave the physical encouragement to Nijboer that brought him to his record time.

That love gives wings, can still not be measured and be based on biological hard evidence: For the excistance of stimulating physiological effects of being in love there is no hard evidence. But that doesn’t mean that the loving feeling on the psycholgical field can not be a form of aroussel – and that especially when this is being answerred.

‘Love is affirmative’, says Roodvoets. ‘It reinforces your self esteem through the fact that your partner gives you the feeling that you belong to him or her. That you are being the number one. The joy about this works as a pink cloud. You can tone down the things better, you can enjoy yourself on things as a romantic diner or good night of making love. The feeling that someone is there for you, and special the promise of getting mor of all these beatiful things, makes that everything goes a bit easier then normal.’A rotten day at work? What the …. Does it make any difference. More important is where you want to go for diner tonight.’

Who gets butterflies in his stomach, should drink a lot to drown the bastards, before they do any real harm.

The Old Sailor,


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