Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 9:37:40 AM
The simple four-letter word of “love” has been discussed as though the word itself should be renamed to “mystery.” What is love? Many times it has been described as a noun. Anthropologist Helen Fisher particularly suggested that love was simply a natural physical experience spontaneously triggered by a human stimulus. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to record the significantly higher activity in the caudate nucleus of individuals in love compared to individuals not in love, Fisher stated that love was indeed a physiological experience. Fisher further hypothesized that the activity of certain chemicals drove the sensations of romantic love. In particular, she pinpointed the increase of dopamine and norepinephrine, and the decrease of serotonin. Elevated levels of dopamine facilitated focused attention, extreme motivation, and goal-directed behaviors. Norepinephrine also generally produced high levels of energy, sleeplessness, and loss of appetite. In contrast, Fisher suspected that low levels of serotonin may be associated with obsessive-compulsive behaviors. These characteristics were experienced by everyone in love regardless of ethnicity, sex, physical size and ability, and religion. Considering all of this, Fisher strongly suggested that love was more of a physical (and mental, in regards to the brain) phenomenon as opposed to an emotional one.
Although all of this made sense, I did not want to believe that this was all love was. Was this physical high all we lived for? In pondering about love, I began to believe that love could be more meaningful as a verb rather than a noun. What kind of verb would it be though? What would it mean “to love” instead of “to be in love”? In thinking about this, I mapped out that loving was a higher form of other actions. Before people could love others they had to feel something else towards them. Perhaps the best description was respect. We had to respect people before we could love them. To me, respecting seemed like another powerful verb, almost as powerful as loving itself. In respecting people, I noticed that people needed to be able to trust others. How would people respect others who were not trustworthy? In analyzing this hierarchy of actions, I wondered if liking was a requirement. Did people need to like others before trusting, respecting, and loving? I settled with answering, “no.” The reasoning for this mainly stemmed from the idea that I could actually like a person but not necessarily trust, respect, or love the person. I must note that loving did not just involve trusting or respecting. Loving involved first trusting then respecting then consequently loving when such actions were heightened. This explanation may have been technical but vague, but this was how I conceptualized love. The word “love” meant “to love.” It was an act in which people shared much care and regard. Love as a verb was active; love as a noun was passive. I wanted to believe that feeling the strong bond between me and others through trust and respect was worth living for.