Intense, Passionate, Romantic Love: A Natural Addiction? How the Fields That Investigate Romance and Substance Abuse Can Inform Each Other

Review Article Front. Psychol., 10 May 2016 | Individuals in the early stage of intense romantic love show many symptoms of substance and non-substance or behavioral addictions, including euphoria, craving, tolerance, emotional and physical dependence, withdrawal and relapse. We have proposed that romantic love is a natural (and often positive) addiction that evolved from mammalian antecedents by 4 million years ago as a survival mechanism to encourage hominin pair-bonding and reproduction, seen cross-culturally today in Homo sapiens. Brain scanning studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging support this view: feelings of intense romantic love engage regions of the brain’s “reward system,” specifically dopamine-rich regions, including the ventral tegmental area, also activated during drug and/or behavioral addiction. Read More

Four broad temperament dimensions: description, convergent validation correlations, and comparison with the Big Five

Original Research Article
Front. Psychol., 03 August 2015 |

Helen E. Fisher, Heide D. Island, Jonathan Rich, Daniel Marchalik, and Lucy L. Brown

A new temperament construct based on recent brain physiology literature has been investigated using the Fisher Temperament Inventory (FTI). Four collections of behaviors emerged, each associated with a specific neural system: the dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen/oxytocin system. These four temperament suites have been designated: (1) Curious/Energetic, (2) Cautious/Social Norm Compliant, (3) Analytical/Tough-minded, and (4) Prosocial/Empathetic temperament dimensions. Two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have suggested that the FTI can measure the influence of these neural systems. In this paper, to further the behavioral validation and characterization of the four proposed temperament dimensions, we measured correlations with five variables: (1) gender; (2) level of education; (3) religious preference; (4) political orientation; (5) the degree to which an individual regards sex as essential to a successful relationship. 

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The Tyranny of Love: Love Addiction—an Anthropologist’s View

Laymen and scientists have long regarded romantic love as part of the supernatural, or as an invention of the Troubadours in 12th century France, or as the result of cultural tradition. However, current data collected using brain scanning (functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI) indicate that feelings of intense romantic love engage regions of the brain’s “reward system,” specifically dopamine pathways associated with energy, focus, motivation, ecstasy and craving, including primary regions associated with addiction. Moreover, men and women who are passionately in love show all of the basic symptoms of addiction, including craving, tolerance, emotional and physical dependence, withdrawal and relapse.Read More
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Neural Correlates of Four Broad Temperament Dimensions: Testing Predictions for a Novel Construct of Personality

Four suites of behavioral traits have been associated with four broad neural systems: the 1) dopamine and related norepinephrine system; 2) serotonin; 3) testosterone; 4) and estrogen and oxytocin system. A 56-item questionnaire, the Fisher Temperament Inventory (FTI), was developed to define four temperament dimensions associated with these behavioral traits and neural systems. The questionnaire has been used to suggest romantic partner compatibility. The dimensions were named: Curious/Energetic; Cautious/Social Norm Compliant; Analytical/Tough-minded; and Prosocial/Empathetic. Read More

Generalized Brain Arousal Mechanisms and Other Biological, Environmental, and Psychological Mechanisms that Contribute to Libido

This theoretical essay proposes that underlying the concept of libido is a primitive set of brain mechanisms responsible for the generalized arousal of the central nervous system (CNS) and the activation of all behavioural responses. Having given the concept of ‘generalized CNS arousal’ an operational definition, we write an equation that describes how specific motivational needs are integrated with generalized arousal to produce an overall state of the CNS sufficient for potentiating behavioural responses. Factor analysis of behavioural data with mice suggest that among all CNS arousal-related influences, generalized arousal contributes about a third of the variance. Many neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and genomic mechanisms for arousal are reviewed here. Highlighted are large reticular formation neurons in the medulla whose axons bifurcating rostrally and caudally equip them to contribute, respectively, both to cerebral cortical arousal and to autonomic arousal. Their rapid responses would cause sudden changes in CNS state associated with, for example, states of panic or rapid sexual attraction. Consequences of the actions of generalized arousal networks include increased alertness and attention that serve all cognitive functions and all emotional expression. Specifically with respect to psychoanalytic concepts these networks provide the psychic energy necessary for the expression of libido.Read More

Neural Correlates of Marital Satisfaction and Well-Being: Reward, Empathy, and Affect

Numerous studies suggest that marital satisfaction is associated with psychological and physical health. Using fMRI, the present study explored the neural correlates of marital satisfaction to investigate the physiological markers potentially mediating these health effects. Seventeen middle-aged individuals (M=52.85 years) in happy, stable, longterm, heterosexual pair-bonds (Mean length of marriage = 21.4 years) were scanned while viewing facial images of their spouses, as well as facial images of a familiar acquaintance and a close friend (to control for familiarity and social bonding). Participants’ marital satisfaction scores (assessed with the Relationship Assessment Scale; Hendrick 1988) were correlated with brain activity in response to all of these facial images. Greater marital satisfaction (after controlling for Passionate Love Scale scores) was positively correlated with activation in several neural regions, including the ventral tegmental area (reflecting reward and motivation); the orbitofrontal cortex (associated with the evaluation of rewards); the anterior insula (associated with empathy); the inferior frontal gyrus (associated with the mirror system), the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (associated with stress control); and the prefrontal cortex (associated with affective regulation). Read More

Serial Monogamy and Clandestine Adultery: Evolution and consequences of the dual human reproductive strategy

Considerable data suggest that Homo sapiens has evolved a dual reproductive strategy: life long and/or serial monogamy in conjunction with clandestine adultery (Fisher 1992). This paper explores the underlying biochemical and genetic mechanisms likely to contribute to this flexible, yet specific human reproductive system and explores some of the implications of this dual human reproductive strategy for contemporary partnerships.Read More
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Neural Correlates of Long-Term Intense Romantic Love

Bianca P. Acevedo, Arthur Aron, Helen E. Fisher, and Lucy L. BrownSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Advance Access published January 5, 2011 The present study examined the neural correlates of long-term intense romantic love using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ten women and 7 men married an average of 21.4 years underwent fMRI while viewing […]Read More

Infidelity: When, Where, Why.

Tsapelas, I, HE Fisher, and A Aron (2010) “Infidelity: when, where, why.” in WR Cupach and BH Spitzberg, The Dark Side of Close Relationships II, New York: Routledge, pp 175-196 Pair-bonding is a hallmark of humanity. Data from the Demographic Yearbooks of the United Nations on 97 societies canvassed in the 1990s indicate that approximately […]Read More