2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating well written as a reference tome
This intriguing look at why we love responds to that question and more such as when we fall out of love and implies why cheating on one's love occurs. Using survey techniques applied globally and scrutinizing available governmental records to gather information and evaluate research data on human behavior, behavioral anthropologist Helen Fisher insists that romantic...
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by Harriet Klausner
1.0 out of 5 stars Why do we love books like this?
I found this book a disappointment. Dr. Fisher's earlier book, The Sex Contract, was a popular and accessible review of some important ideas about evolution and human behavior. They have been around for 20 years or more but hadn't reached a lay audience. Nothing wrong with popularizing science. It's a public service. Personally, I'd suggest Sara Hrdy's The Woman Who...
Published on Feb. 15 2004
Most Helpful First | Newest First
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating well written as a reference tome,
This intriguing look at why we love responds to that question and more such as when we fall out of love and implies why cheating on one's love occurs. Using survey techniques applied globally and scrutinizing available governmental records to gather information and evaluate research data on human behavior, behavioral anthropologist Helen Fisher insists that romantic behavior is caused by two crucial chemicals produced by the brain. When a person falls in love, the brain generates major increases of energy that leads to positive and negative reactions such as passion, elation, obsession, and jealousy. Most interesting is the thesis on love amongst prehistorical mankind that insists that "four-year birth intervals were the regular pattern of birth spacing during our long human prehistory". The author insists this has been wired into our modern brains to remain monogamous for four years. World wide data shows that a higher than normal divorce rate occurs during the fourth year of marriage especially when one child has been born.
This is more than just a scientific look at love. Instead Dr. Fisher provides an intriguing argument on WHY WE LOVE and why we fall out of love. Though the emphasis is chemical and data oriented, Dr. Fisher also provides tips to stay in love that includes focusing on the positive emotions. Fascinating well written as a reference tome that provides insight yet the easy to read WHY WE LOVE: THE NATURE AND FUTURE OF ROMANTIC LOVE is fun to follow.
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance Coach to Love Writer,
I'm always interested in what's new on the romance and love front, and get my best leads from my eMAIL to eMATE readers and my romance coaching clients. Sure enough, "Why We Love" joins my "Recommended Reading for Romantics" list. Thanks for suggesting it, Darlene! This book is a goodie.
The author Helen Fisher does a terrific job of presenting the latest information on the biochemistry of emotions and love in a fascinating and readable style. Her own theorizing on falling in love, the facts that support and lead her ideas, and poetry, literature, and contemporary examples are woven seamlessly into a readable whole. Understandably, with my psychotherapy and now romance coaching clients, I've done a lot of thinking and talking about love and romance myself. And I'm pleased to see that Fisher thoughts and the research support and parallel my own theorizing.
Fisher thinks (and the research she quotes agrees) that romantic love has played a vital and important in human survival and development. "Normal" romantic passion lasts between one and two years, which, when you think about it, is just enough time for a new couple to get pregnant, set up housekeeping, and start raising a new infant - not necessarily in that order. Then a new kind of attachment develops, hopefully, that keeps the family together to raise the child. As we well know, that is not a foolproof arrangement.
Fisher's booked is crammed with riveting detail about the physiology and biochemistry of love and attraction. Fisher also extrapolates from her data and gives advice on how to use the findings in real life. She writes about how to make romance last, how to negotiate the end of a relationship quicker and easier, and even how to encourage someone to fall in love with you as well as make yourself more receptive to the in-love state.
Some of what she says sounds terribly familiar - men like to do things together, women like to talk about it, for instance - but Fisher goes ahead and explains why. She also adds some brand-new, contemporary details, like the role or serotonin in the falling-in-love process, and how elevated levels of serotonin inhibit your ability to fall in love. For those of us (and there are millions!) who take anti-depressants that are SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, prozac is the best known), take heed. Your medications that are helping your feel better may be getting in the way romantically.
If you've wondered about romance and why men and women do what they do - and who hasn't? - Fisher has a lot of the answers. And if you want to be "in love," this book will explain the whole process. This is a "must read"!
Kathryn Lord, Romance Coach
4.0 out of 5 stars The Science of Romantic Love,
By A Customer
From time immemorial philosophers, poets, writers, and probably anyone else who could voice an opinion have pondered over the question, what is romantic love?
In fact, if you ask someone to describe its attributes, you would probably be informed that once you experience romantic love it is difficult to control. For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have fallen in love, we are well aware of some of the effects it may have on us, such as, being obsessed with our partners, distorted reality, emotional and physical dependence, personality changes, and domination of our drives to eat and sleep.
In 1996, renowned anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher, with a team of behavioral scientists, set out to investigate the mystery of "being in love." Their objective was to find out why we love, why we choose the people that we choose, the differences between male and female feelings as it pertains to romance, animal love, love at first sight, love and lust, love and marriage, evolution of love, love and hate, and the brain in love.
The culmination of this study has now been summed in Dr. Fisher's book, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love.
In order to scientifically study these themes, Dr. Fisher and her team used the newest technology for brain scanning known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The team endeavored to record men and women's brain activity, after they had just fallen madly in love. The principal objective was to record the range of feelings associated with "being in love."
Dr. Fisher's findings are extremely interesting, particularly the observations she and her team were able to make with their brain scanner concerning the different brain regions that become active when their subjects felt romantic ecstasy.
A strong believer in the theory that romantic love is a universal human feeling that produces specific chemicals and networks in the brain; the author was determined to discover what effect these chemicals and networks had on the human brain. Consequently, her study focused on collecting scientific data on the chemistry and brain circuitry of romantic love, and more particularly on dopamine and norepinephrine, as well as a related brain substance, serotonin.
Dr. Fisher states that the reason why she concentrated on these chemicals was because the "attraction animals feel for particular mates is linked with elevated levels of dopamine and/or norepinephrine in the brain." Moreover, as she states, "all three of these chemicals produce many of the sensations of human romantic passions."
The method used by Dr. Fisher and her team was to ask their love-smitten subjects to look at a photograph of his or her beloved, and secondly to look at another photograph of an acquaintance who generated no positive or negative romantic feelings. Pictures were taken of the brain and blood flows in the brain were also recorded.
Dr. Fisher's observations are presented in an engaging style devoid of technical terms, and will go a long way with its interesting insights in helping us understand more about romantic love.
Moreover, this fascinating analysis of romantic love reveals a great deal more about the subject than we may have initially perceived.
As a side note, I found it somewhat amusing that Dr. Fisher had prefaced her chapters with quotes from many literary giants as Shakespeare, Yeats, Shelley, Dickens, and others who have written about romantic love.
Many of these quotes only reconfirm Dr. Fisher's scientific findings, and will probably seduce readers in rushing back to read the romantic writings of these literary figures.
Norm Goldman Editor of Bookpleasures.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Why We Love : The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love,
Love, the poets tell us, is as elusive as a butterfly. Such an ephemeral concept presented a nearly irresistible challenge to anthropologist Fisher, who set out to prove that love indeed could be quantified and analyzed as if it were a tangible commodity. Commanding sophisticated methodology, from MRIs to EEGs, and complex blood analyses to comprehensive psychological surveys, Fisher employed all the technological tools of the trade to determine the difference between love and lust, between the desire for romance and the demand to reproduce. Birds and bees do, in fact, do it, and men, it turns out, are not from Mars, nor women from Venus. Love, Fisher concludes, is the product of a chemical quagmire and the result of a sociological imperative as ancient as cavemen and as elemental as amoebas. Entertainingly balancing poetic plaudits with scientific sanctions, Fisher presents both the chemistry behind love's rashest behavior and the understanding necessary to weather the emotional upheavals associated with falling in love.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Science of Romantic Pleasure!,
By A Customer
Helen Fisher is witty, wise and accessible. As a longtime fan of her writing, I have to wonder about reviewers who deride the notion of staying attractive and smiling more. It may sound like "fluff" but the point of romance is to feel happy and sexually aroused -- and to keep your mate in that mood as well. If you care more about getting a good interest rate on your mutually owned property, then this book might not be for you. If you want to agonize about gender politics while pushing a stroller, it's also not for you. But if you are intrigued by love, if you want to be smart about your personal life while also having some FUN while you are still alive this is a great read. I find the bitterness and negativity expressed by some people very sad -- romantic pleasure is a wonderful thing. Without it, we run the risk of turning into negative prunes. This book is a great antidote to the prunelike social forces who conspire against romantic/erotic love. Dr Fisher is helping to keep Eros on the agenda.
1.0 out of 5 stars Why do we love books like this?,
By A Customer
I found this book a disappointment. Dr. Fisher's earlier book, The Sex Contract, was a popular and accessible review of some important ideas about evolution and human behavior. They have been around for 20 years or more but hadn't reached a lay audience. Nothing wrong with popularizing science. It's a public service. Personally, I'd suggest Sara Hrdy's The Woman Who Never Evolved and Mother Nature as the books about evolution, sex, and bonding that will stand the test of time.
Unfortunately, Dr. Fisher's new book is less a service to science or the public than The Sex Contract. Indeed her books seem to me to be steadily sliding downward from popularization of science to mere popularization. Notwithstanding social scientists' current enthusiasm for brain research, we are still very early in the game. In most respects we don't know the right questions to ask or how to frame them. We rarely know what the answers are like, muchless the details or how they might be translated into practical applications.
Dr. Fisher presents a few facts about neurotransmitters as explaining far more than they reasonably can. There are the obligatory cautions and qualifications but they aren't allowed to get in the way of the story. A great deal of the most careful neuroscience research on bonding and parenting is on mice. Nice little brains, inexpensive to feed, and they are mammals. But their evolutionary solution to mating, having young, and parenting is dramatically different from ours. The adults don't form lasting bonds. They have an amazing number of offspring which require care for only a very brief time, and their young do not have lifelong bonds to the parents. As Dr. Fisher points out in her previous books, humans are dramatically different. We differ from rodents (and most other species) in our monogamous bonding, paternal investment in young, small number of offspring, their extrordinarily long immaturity, the duration of care we provide, and the duration of chidren's bonds to their parents.
It would be nice to know in detail how the chemistry of the mouse brain explains mouse behavior. It might help us ask the right questions about human brains and behavior. But it doesn't seem likely that the same mechanisms would account for such very different behavior in humans.
Read the book. Enjoy the story. It will give you the "feeling of knowing". Just don't take any pills, accept any mental health or marital advice, make any decisions about your romantic life, or do a term paper in biology or biopsychology without a trip to the library.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating trek into the science of love,
"Why We Love" is one of the most interesting books available today on the subject of love. From years of empirical research finally comes a fact filled fascinating book on love. Helen Fisher examines the chemical basis of love; yes there are chemical changes when you are in love. From workings of specific chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and seratonin to fMRI examinations of the brain the book is packed with hard empirical research results. In addition to this she looks at evolutionary factors in things like how we choose our mate and how that process is different for men and women. Not to leave any stone unturned she also discusses the problem of lost love and its effects on our body and emotional health. Finally she discusses how to make romance last and includes a fascinating section on intimacy differences between male and female. "Why We Love" deserves the highest recommendation that I can give and is a book that I am likely not only to recommend but also to purchase as a gift for others who want to understand the phenomenon of love. Bravo Helen Fisher for such an enlightening work that is sure to become the new standard by which similar works will be judged.
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable reading for its intended audience,
Some of the five people who reviewed this earlier here than I did judged the book as if it were intended as something more than it is. Fisher is a scientist, but her readership includes many who are just interested in romantic love as a human phenomenon. As a professional book reviewer as well as a physicist (Ph.D. though that matters little here), I always strive to evaluate how well the book serves its intended audience, not whether it meets the standards of a peer-reviewed journal.
I often recommend books to a subset of the people who are reading my reviews. In this case, I think Helen Fisher has done a remarkably good job of sharing her own research and that of others, drawing conclusions which she admits are sometimes speculative, and sharing them with people who appreciate romance as much as she does.
You can read my review, as published as the lead review in the Dallas Morning News on 2/8/04, at my personal review archive, The Science Shelf ([...]
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book for good and sad endings!,
So far, I have read about 80 to 100 books on the topic of love everything from european poetry to sternberg's love theory with a few trashy cosmopolitan articles in between (I do admit, I have a clear obsession to understand what love is truly about).
Fisher's book has covered many aspects of evolutionary biology that have remained osbcured from many authors in the past. In many ways this book demystifies the concept of love and gives the reader a clear foundation of the biological processes that lie hidden from shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. H. Fisher picks some elegant human and non-human primate experiments to illustrate her ideas and goes beyond the lab to explain the every day phenomenon of love and attraction.
In summary, I recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic, including those who are deeply in love or to anyone out there who has lost a wonderful person and is looking for ways to understand a bit more.
2.0 out of 5 stars narrow,
By A Customer
I read some of this book on loan...and also listened to the author's interview concerning this book. Most of what I've read and heard is a bunch of fluff that might appeal to some mass market along the lines of Oprah psychology. Why people spend so much time and "research" on trying to define the source of a love gene is beyond me. What is the end goal? It's as if learning the "root" cause of love will somehow provide great insight into what we already know and experience about love: science cannot explain the human heart and its complexities. Like a character in a Woody Allen movie, most people cannot fathom their own hearts and the depths and complexities involving the mystery we call love.
Nonetheless, I don't blame any researcher for trying to earn a living delving into the "un-delvable!"
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher (Paperback - Jan. 2 2005)
CDN$ 19.50 CDN$ 14.08