I don’t enjoy much on TV as a rule. Most of it has one or two lines that might make me smile, or might make me think, but for the most part I would rather do something else. This works well in my home as my husband loves all the Food Channels, and my children just want an excuse to watch anything at all. But other day I was watching a show that in its premise asked a very interesting question: Is love something our brain creates or is it real?
We, and therefore scientists, can pinpoint love in our brain. It is a thing, a space, a place that exists and turns on and off. Love is a physical reaction that the brain gives us. The warm and fuzzies. The smiles, the joys, the tears, is all a product of the brain directing us. It isn’t based on the heart like the songs go. It doesn’t have anything to do with the heart, the soul or much anything else.
Some may even say it is a Darwin necessity for the survival of the species. We have the attraction, the love, and then we naturally have the physical sex and ta-da, babies are born. Does our brain create feelings inside of us to make sure that the next generation is around to carry our genes, our learnings, our very survival on? Does our brain manufacture a feeling in order to survive?
Or do we really feel love? Do we really have a connection with another person? Our lost half, our better half, our missing mate. Is there such a thing as someone who, not by fate or design, is destined to be our one and only? Is the love that we feel for each other real?
If one wonders if love is real for a partner, than we must also ask ourselves is the love we feel for our children, our parents not also a figment of our brain. Is the incredible feelings of pure emotion that I feel when I look at my child created by my brain to help them survive. Unlike almost every other animal in the kingdom, it takes years for a human child to be able to survive without a parent. Think about those horses that can stand within minutes of being born; it takes a child years.
And why is it perfectly acceptable that my love for my child maybe manufactured, but the love I feel for my husband maybe nothing more than a survival tool? How come it offends us that love is nothing but a tool, a device created by nature to make sure the species survives? How come we are deceived by something so completely that even the thought that love is artificial is repugnant to us? Our brain is incredibly perfect, we know this; so why can’t we accept that love is created by this machine?
I don’t know. I don’t know if I can ever be convinced that love is anything but the brain’s technique. Love hasn’t ever made sense to me. The thought that love was in the heart was easily swept away in mind by the reality of the organ’s function. I continually wonder about the soul, that elusive thing that has slowly and surely taken more and more shape in our science and in our knowledge. I could easily accept the studies that show the soul has weight, or at least there is something in us that leaves upon our death that while can be measured, is never seen. I can accept that this may be the soul.
But I can’t accept that love any more than hate, fear, anger or embarrassment is fate, destiny, a feeling. Embarrassment, for example, is completely in one’s own mind. If you are embarrassed or if you are ashamed, there is absolutely something wrong with you; not the world you are in. It is up to you to rid yourself of those feelings. (I acknowledge that fear is something totally different, and not easily overcome like the rest…) So if frustration is in your own mind, why wouldn’t love be?
I don’t trust easily; men or feelings. This is a somewhat strange statement from a woman who is bipolar and covered from head to toe in feelings; but just the same it is literally impossible for me to trust emotions as real things. Maybe it is from looking at life through rose-colored glasses too long, or maybe I just looked through life with beer-goggles for too long. Not sure. But whatever the reason, I actually take comfort in the idea that love is produced. Maybe even love is man-made in order for us to follow through with actions and responses that are needed.
Defining something, holding it in one’s hand is always preferable to the alternative. Shaping something with science, with math is more comfortable to me than having faith. Despite the fact that I literally have faith tattooed on my body, I don’t have a lot of it. Just as I don’t have a lot of other emotions, faith has never been a big part of my day-to-day life.
The idea that our brain manufactures love makes sense. Why wouldn’t our species find ways to guarantee the continuation of the species? It certainly isn’t part of the bird and bees talk our mothers gave us. Why wouldn’t the largest and most significant brain on the planet guarantee that certain things would happen? Why wouldn’t the brain cover its own ass? Sorta makes sense.
What will never make sense is looking across a room and instantly believing that love is the reason you are so glassy-eyed you can’t see the hole in front of you. What will never work for me is that love is an excuse, a reason to behave in certain ways. I enjoy the poetry, the songs, the love stories as much as the next girl. But to me, all it could be is a symptom of the brain’s trigger. Maybe that is cynical. Maybe despite the fact I really do love those songs, I am not a big believer in true love.
On a final note, one should read that I believe in love. I believe that it is real, that is true; I just don’t believe that it magically appeared and sucked my soul into heaven. I believe that it is created by our brain, and I believe that we can and often will turn that part of our brain off in lieu of other truths. I believe that love is a symptom of human’s need to connect. I believe that love is a symptom of human’s need to survive. So the next time you look out in a crowd and see your true love, take the moment to truly look around. Maybe your brain just had a hiccup.