What ’tis to love? Shakespeare asked. People probably pondered this as they lay around their campfires and watched the stars a million years ago. Anthropologist Helen Fisher and her colleagues have put over 75 men and women into a brain scanner (using fMRI) to understand this ecstasy. Among them: 17 had just fallen happily in love; 15 had just been rejected in love; and 17 were still in love after 21 years of marriage. As Fisher says, “Everywhere in the world people pine for love, live for love, kill for love, and die for love. Romantic love is one of the most powerful brain systems we humans have evolved. Indeed, songs, poems, ballets, operas, symphonies, plays, movies, TV series, novels, myths, legends, therapists, even cards and holidays: the world is saturated with the artifacts of this primal human passion.”
In WHY WE LOVE, Fisher discusses romantic love among peoples around the world (the oldest love poem comes from ancient Sumeria over 4,000 years ago.) She discusses what happens in your brain when you fall in love–including activation in a brain region associated with intense addiction. She traces types of love, the feelings of love, the evolution of love, love among other creatures—from wolves to ducks, elephants and chimps–and the future of this beguiling craving in our digital age. “Romantic love,” she says, “is a primordial mating drive that evolved over 4 million years ago to push our forebears (and ourselves) to seek, find and keep life’s greatest prize—a mating partner.”
“Helen Fisher’s book will entice you, charm away your resistance to its thesis, seduce you into accepting it. It is poetic, sexy, beguiling, and all at the same time, scientific.”
— Richard Dawkins.
“Like the words of a talented lover, Fisher’s prose is charming and engaging…In hands as skilled and sensitive as Fisher’s, scientific analysis of love only adds to its magic.”
— Scientific American
Selection of the Scientific American Book Club; Discovery Book Club; The Quality Paperback Book Club; Bertelsmann Media Spolka (Polish book club); Recommended in: 360° of Reading: A Literature Guide for the College Bound. 25 foreign language editions.
Why We Love: published in 26 countries