[Paleopsych] Inner Worlds: Brain science and romantic love

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Brain science and romantic love
[This is a dubious site. Links to other articles there below.]


    Love seems to be an experience of the 'other.' Even though it's really
    about ourselves, we experience it as being to do with another person.
    To see more deeply into it, we need to look at the experience of 'the
    other' more deeply.

    There hasn't been a lot of research on the subject. There are many
    studies that have yielded interesting statistics about how being in
    love affects academic performance, how it affects the immune system,
    how it influences the perceived quality of life, and a range of other
    findings. But the experience itself remains elusive, especially in
    terms of neurology.

    There is one line of research that suggests something about the nature
    of love, and it seems that love is only instance of a larger group of
    experiences: relating to the 'other'. After looking at the evidence,
    it seems to me that the 'other' is one's self.

    I'm thinking of some research into an experience called "The Sensed
    Presence." Its that feeling people get, usually at night, where they
    feel that there is someone or something in the room with them, an
    'energy' or a 'presence' perhaps. They might feel simply that they are
    'not alone' or that they're 'being watched.' There is an indefinable
    feeling that there is an 'other' of some kind in the room with them.

    To understand this, we need to look at the self, and not the other.

    To start, we need to see that the self is more than our ordinary
    experience shows us. Even in our most quiet moments, when we are
    still, it can be very hard to see our 'self'. Buddhism teaches that
    there is no such thing. If they're right, then we're on a wild goose
    chase in looking for it. Other religions say that the self is God. If
    these teachings are right, then our self is so elevated that we may
    have no hope of ever understanding it.

    Fortunately, brain science is a bit more down-to-earth than religion.
    There, we have a chance of understanding what the self is, even though
    the information won't tell us the whole story.

    The latest 'teachings' from neuroscience tell us that we actually have
    two selves, one on each side of the brain. And they're specialized.
    Like anything else in the brain, they each have specific jobs to do.
    One of them, on the left, is the one that experiences things through
    language. It's very socialized. Language is mostly a tool for relating
    to other people, so the 'linguistic' self is very conscious of where
    it stands with others. Its very sensitive to its social rank, as its
    reflected in the words of others. A simple string of words from
    another, like: 'you're fired' or 'I love you', can have an amazing
    impact on the person hearing them. They'll feel that 'they' are
    affected by these words. And they, as social beings, have been. When
    we lose a job, our social rank is reduced. When we start a new
    relationship, or we can feel that we are secure in a present one, our
    social rank is raised a bit.

    The other side of the brain, on the right, also has a self. It
    experiences the world in non-verbal ways. Its more introspective. Its
    silent. Its affected by music, art, pictures, and our perceptions of
    how others feel, rather than what others say. Its more likely to
    manifest in situations where we aren't able to take the need of others
    into account. Its usually subordinate; operating underneath the left
    hemispheric one. It takes this role because the linguistic self is
    actively interpreting the world and our experiences with words all the
    time. For most people, this keeps the silent self hidden, so that it
    operates without out knowing about it consciously. In many ways, the
    'conscious' self is the one on the left, with only intermittent input
    from the one on the right.

    The Sensed Presence experience occurs when our two senses of self fall
    out of phase with one another. The subordinate sense of self is
    experienced directly by the dominant, linguistic one. Because we can't
    have two senses of self, the intruding silent sense of self is
    experienced as an external presence, and 'felt' to be happening
    outside one's self.
    I believe that the sensed presence also happens when we relate to
    other people. Some presences mean threats, while others can mean
    support, comfort or safety. We use our experiences of past states as a
    repertoire from which we select the state best suited to arising
    situations, and presences known from the past are projected onto
    presences encountered in the present.
    I want to suggest that we are projecting a part of ourselves onto real
    people whenever we're relating to them. The presences we experience in
    other people are the creations of our own minds, externalized and
    projected onto others. Each separate presence will call up a separate
    state of consciousness, although the differences between many of these
    states might be slight. From infancy onwards, we have acquaintances;
    people who are too socially distant to be called friends, but close
    enough that we must pay some attention to them. The default settings
    for relating to acquaintances are derived from our own sense of self
    while we are with such people in the past. Other people are absolutely
    unique. Some people catch our attention very sharply. We fall in love
    with them, or we come to hate their guts. These people are not mere
    aquaintances. Their presence cuts closer to home. Their words, for
    whatever reason, affects our self-esteem.

    Because we are such an intensely social species, our self esteem is
    largely a function of what we think our value is in the eyes of
    others. Most of the time, people speak to each other in ways that
    reflect their respect, or lack of it. Respect has a lot to do with
    social standing and rank. For the most part, we respect ourselves when
    we feel respected by those around us, even though it doesn't
    necessarily have to be that way.
    Our self-esteem changes almost constantly. Most of these changes are
    experienced through our emotions, although it also has a serious
    impact on the way a person thinks. Our moods can be elevated and
    depressed through the words of others. Words like you're hired' and
    you're fired.' Or, I love you' and leave me alone.' Our moods are
    directly connected to our level of self-esteem in each moment. In
    normal conditions, our experience of our selves is sensitive to how we
    are treated and spoken to by others.

    Each and every state of consciousness carries its own level of
    self-esteem. Whether or not one is in a subordinate position in any
    given situation initiates an appropriate state. The state enables a
    set of responses that minimize the situation's stress level by
    fulfilling the expectations of the dominant person in the situation.
    Each state has its own ways of thinking, feeling, speaking, and
    acting. Even for the most aware people, its hard to see all these
    thing happening at once. We live on autopilot, so to speak. If we were
    to try to make a conscious decision about each way we 'act out' our
    state of consciousness, we'd crash the system. We have to be on
    automatic, for the most part, because there are so many controls to
    adjust for each state.
    We want positive states to repeat, and to avoid the negative,
    unpleasant ones. This creates a tendency to bond with people that feel
    good to be around. Simple, eh?

    Not really. We 'decide' who feels good according to what we choose to
    project. And we make these choices largely out of habit. It begins in
    infancy, when we first begin to experience ourselves as individuals.
    There has been some research in pre natal psychology that suggests
    that the fetus experiences its mother's states of consciousness as
    though they are it's own. Sometime around birth, the newborn begins to
    experience its own states for the first time. Before birth, the mother
    gets angry, the fetus experiences the same state, although certainly
    it will now have very different phenomenological correlates. After
    birth, when the mother gets angry, the infant no longer experiences it
    with the same intimacy. The boundaries of the infants new self must be
    In the womb, the fetus probably didn't distinguish between itself and
    its mother. She must now be experienced as an external presence. For
    the first time, the ambient chemical environment in the womb is
    experienced as its mother's smell. Its mother, now experienced as
    separate from itself, becomes the source from which all its physical
    and emotional needs are met, almost without exception.
    Many commentators on the experience of romantic love have argued that
    the experience of early childhood comfort and nurturing provides a
    template from which later expectations about relationships are drawn.
    We begin to feel that our lover ought to treat us much as our mothers
    did. Women, of course, have the additional process of mapping their
    senses of comforting, loving presences onto men.

    In looking for romantic fulfillment, we are looking to find an
    experience that will change our experience of ourselves. Not by
    looking for love within ourselves, as so many spiritual teachers
    suggest, but by allowing a part of our 'self' to manifest through
    another. When I stop and remember that we're a social species, I
    cannot help but see it differently.

    For some people, or at some times in a person's life, 'true happiness'
    might be found only outside one's self. Our brains and minds are
    configured for relating to others in so many ways. Humans have a long
    childhood compared to other primate species, and most of it is spent
    relying on others to meet their most basic needs. Children are so
    engaged with the presence of others that they can usually play with
    anything and imagine it's alive.
    Children imagine their toys have a presence to them, so that a crayon
    becomes Mr. Crayon'. The Buddhist faithful imagine that a Buddha
    statue has the presence of the Enlightened One. The disciple sees God
    in his Guru. And these are projections. In the same way, lovers
    project their own loving presence onto their romantic partners.
    I want to suggest that falling in love is the process of projecting
    one's right-sided sense of self onto one's beloved.

    Because the same pathways that are involved in the maintenance of the
    right-sided, silent sense of self are also specialized for negative
    feelings, the maintenance of the romantic illusion is delicate at
    best. It's easily broken, and rarely lasts for more than a few weeks
    in most cases and a few years in cases where people feel strongly
    enough to marry.

    People often want to feel really passionate love before starting a
    relationship. But that kind usually doesn't last. When it fades, very
    few people escape disappointment of one kind or another. People are
    angered when their lover turns out to be who they are instead of who
    they were supposed to be. Sustaining relationships past this point
    calls for either denial or relationship and communication skills.
    I can use a fancy neuro scientific phrase to describe the nature of
    love (a sustained interhemispheric intrusion), but even I don't enjoy
    seeing my romantic side reduced to so sterile a set of words.

    Like the sensed presence experience, being in love happens when the
    silent sense of self comes out where linguistic sense of self can see
    it, except that instead of being sensed as a feeling that one is being
    watched, its projected directly onto the beloved. In the process, the
    normal division of other and self is blurred. Lovers speak of losing
    themselves in the other, or that they can't tell where they end and
    their lover begins.
    So long as one is able to sustain the illusion that one's partner will
    be the source of fulfillment, the projection continues undisturbed.
    It's been said that, when it comes to relationships, everybody is
    looking for a tailor-made fit, even though its an off-the-rack world.
    Inevitably, something happens to disturb the illusion. The
    'interhemispheric intrusion' ends. The honeymoon is over. 'Hemispheric
    intrusions' are often very brief events. A vision of an angel might
    last just a few seconds. The first flush of true love' might continue
    for only weeks or months.
    There was a study of the relationship between hemisphericity and
    self-esteem, and it found that the higher a person's level of right
    hemispheric 'dominance', the lower their self-esteem. Right
    hemisphericity means that a person's experience of their self is
    dominated by their right side. This is the side of the brain that is
    specialized for both negative feelings and non-verbal ways of
    processing our experiences. All other conditions being equal, the more
    intuitive and spontaneous a person is, the lower their self esteem
    will be. Of course, people compensate in various ways, so that 'all
    other conditions' usually aren't equal.
    When a person is in love, their right hemispheric self' has access to
    the positive emotions on the left. Love feels good. However, after the
    experience is over, the person finds themselves more vulnerable to
    fear and sadness in response to things that threaten their sense of
    self. Such threats occur almost every moment in our lives. Those whose
    sense of self is mostly derived from the left side are much less
    vulnerable. They are better able to feel good about themselves even in
    the face of verbal assaults, but they are also less likely to fall so
    deeply in love in the first place.
    The typical aftermath of a mystical experience finds the person
    feeling somewhat shaky. They will avoid those whose energy' tends to
    bring them down.' In other words, they won't be able to cope well in
    many social interactions. They may even retreat into solitude, and
    avoid relating to others as much as they can. They tend to reject the
    mind-set that supports the opinions of those whose company they don't
    enjoy. At the same time, there can be an almost obsessive desire to
    share' their experience with anyone willing to listen. They seek out
    validation in the eyes of those around them; 'shouting it from the
    rooftops', making up for the fragmentation their sense of self
    sustained in their epiphany. They may cling to those whose company
    they find supportive. Left hemispheric personalities are judged and
    labeled using such phrases as there are none so blind as those who
    will not see.' Ideas about karma are invoked to explain how some just
    aren't ready to hear the truth.'
    Someone who is in unrequited love, or is losing a lover they still
    want to be with, finds themselves in much the same position. They,
    too, are vulnerable. They also feel that others just don't
    understand.' Their self esteem falls. They may cling to those who are
    willing to support them, just like those processing' in the wake of
    spiritual experiences and awakenings. They may also feel that they are
    not the same person they were before they experienced their romantic
    disappointment, just as the religious experient is also a changed' man
    or woman.
    In the Sufi tradition, God is referred to as the beloved, and it
    preserves many metaphors that convey the idea that separation from God
    is as painful as separation from whoever one is in love with. Union
    with God is seen as similar to romantic fulfillment.
    I suggest that romantic love is underpinned by the same brain
    mechanisms that are involved in the experience of God. While a mystic
    experience is often short and intense, romantic episodes may last a
    long time. Both of them involve the silent, right-sided self coming
    out where the left-sided self can see it, along with intense positive

    The after-effects are based on similar neural and psychological
    mechanisms. The dark night of the soul and the despair of unrequited
    love are made of the same stuff'.
    There is some truth in the sayings that the beloved is God, and that
    when we love God we are loving ourselves. I and thou are one. The
    other is the self.

    [5]Shakti - Magnetic Brain Stimulation
    [6]Deja Vu [7]Darwinian Reincarnation
      [8]Consciousness [9]Romantic Love and the Brain

    [10]Origins of spirituality in Human Evolution
    [11]Sacred Lands [12]"The Sensed Presence"

    [13]Glasses For Enhanced Visual Acuity
    [14]God in the Brain [15]Spiritual Aptitude Test

    [16]Stimulating My BrainAs A Spiritual Path
    [17]Inventing Shakti [18]Sex_and States of Consciousness

    [19]The Gay Male Brain - Evolutionary Speculations
    [20]Visions [21]The Spiritual Personality

    [22]Enlightenment And the Brain
    [23]Archetypes  [24]A Diet For Epileptics?

    [25]Odd Experiences - Online Poll Results
    [26]Brain_News [27]Out-Of-Body Experiences

    [28]Near-Death Experiences - Thai Case histories
    [29]The Big Bang [30]Meditations from Brain Science

    [31]Near-Death Experiences in Thailand - Discussion
    [32]Downloads [33]The Terrorist Brain

    [34]Publications by Dr. M.A. Persinger
    [35]Credentials [36]Hippocrates on Epilepsy


    4. mailto:brainsci at jps.net
    5. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/winshakti/index.htm
    6. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/dejavu.htm
    7. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/rebirth.htm
    8. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/consciousness.htm
    9. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/romance.htm
   10. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/deathanxiety.htm
   11. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/earthfee.htm
   12. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/sp.htm
   13. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/evaglasses.htm
   14. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/god.htm
   15. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/anchored_TL_test.htm
   16. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/me_myTL.htm
   17. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/neuromag.htm
   18. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/sex_ascs.htm
   19. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/gaybrain.htm
   20. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/Visions.htm
   21. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/traits.htm
   22. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/moksha.htm
   23. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/archetypes.htm
   24. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/ketogenic.htm
   25. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/pollresults.htm
   26. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/brain_news.htm
   27. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/obe.htm
   28. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/bkknde.htm
   29. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/bigbang.htm
   30. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/neuromed.htm
   31. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/thaindes.htm
   32. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/downloads.htm
   33. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/terrorism.htm
   34. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/Persinger_pubs.htm
   35. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/credentials.htm
   36. http://www.innerworlds.50megs.com/hippocrat.htm

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