LivingHelen Fisher:

Helen Fisher:

It isthe foremost expert on sexuality, marriage and divorce from an evolutionary point of view, in addition to being the author ofbest-sellersand one of the most prestigious anthropologists in the US She lives next to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, among ethnic pieces brought from her travels, in which she has studied 58 societies from all over the planet. And every night, enjoy the pleasures of Manhattan: the small theaters where they put on the classics, the exhibitions, the cheap restaurants with charm, because the research is not for luxury. She is what Americans call a “public intellectual” who combines laboratory work with presentations on television, universities and other forums. Now he applies the most modern technologies to his research and scans brains in love and broken hearts.

10 years ago he began to study the great mystery ofwhy we love, how we choose a partner and what happens to the brain in loveso that the sanest go crazy. Count it inWhy We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, a book that he has presented in Spain.

-Is there an unknown key that leads us to fall in love with someone?
-The time and cultural elements are important. You have to be ready to be able to fall in love in that moment, and childhood experiences also count. As we grow we develop an unconscious profile of what we are going to look for based on the experience of our parents, school, our friends, what we see on TV … And when you are at the right time and you find the person That fits that profile, brain circuits can be put into operation and chemical reactions are triggered. But the decision to choose a person may be based on cultural elements: beauty and youth move men, and women are impressed by wealth and good standing. And if love enters their eyes, women are more sensitive to words and details. The way we feel when we fall in love works with the chemistry of the brain circuits.

Helen put up posters around Rutgers University in New Jersey: “Did you just fall madly in love?” With 839 volunteers of various ages, races and conditions that underwent nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, it showed that love is universal and hardly differs from one another.

-When you have explored the brain in love, what have you found in there?
-That is the most innovative part of my work, the one in which we have explored the areas and substances involved in romantic love. When I first saw the images of the brain in love with the active regions illuminated in bright yellow and orange, I felt overwhelming admiration. I’ve seen the blood flow activity in those areas and checked the chemicals. There are two very active regions: the caudate nucleus, a recently discovered primitive C-shaped region related to the brain’s reward system, sexual arousal, feelings of pleasure, and motivation to achieve rewards. The other is the ventral tegmental area, ATV, the mother streak of cells that produce dopamine.

-Dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin … are the substances that it has detected. Are we a natural drug factory when we fall in love?
-I think that this madness is produced by high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, and a low level of serotonin. Dopamine in large quantities, in addition to increasing the level of testosterone – the hormone of sexual desire – is associated with a great capacity for concentration, euphoria and dependence, which are symptoms of addiction. The high of the lover is produced by the substances that his brain makes: the high level of norepinephrine, which produces euphoria and loss of appetite; the low level of serotonin has to do with the obsession of being with the loved one.

-You distinguish between sexual attraction, romantic love and affection, each with its brain circuit. And he said that love lasts 4 years. Do you still think it has that expiration date?
-After knowing so many cultures and tribes, I saw that women around the world tended to have children every four years, the most common period of divorce, after marriage; and that in other species that form bonds between equals, parents and children are together at least the time to raise the offspring. This is how I developed the theory of the 4-year reproductive cycle. The divorce rate grows a lot, according to the woman is more financially independent, but that pattern does not change. Perhaps the human animal was created to have a series of successive relationships, although not all of them are separated. There are marriages that last a lifetime, like over 50 percent of those in the US We seem to have many different reproductive patterns. The brain is a very flexible organ, and different people handle these brain systems differently; Some form a marriage forever and others feel great affection for their partner, but at the same time they can fall in love with another.

-Is it possible to identify what type someone is when you meet him?
-That’s the problem; You can’t even know what pattern you’re going to fit into today. I suppose that is why we have developed language, and sign language, to show our intentions.

-How does the figure of Latin love , Don Juan, fit in here?
-It’s everywhere, in New York and among the Eskimos. Americans do not like infidelity, but some Mediterranean cultures overlook this little detail and are very permissive with men.

-It has also shown that animals fall in love.
-In more than 100 species, from elephants to rodents, I saw that they choose a mate and feel a primitive romantic love: they do not eat, they hardly drink … Darwin was one of the few who recognized him.

-Which societies have taught you the most?
-The Kung Bushmen, a tribe of bow hunters and gatherers from the Kalahari desert who live like millions of years ago, and specifically a woman named Nisa, whose love life is practically like ours.

– Does marriage have a future?
-There are two types of marriage: the traditional and the symmetrical or between equals; in the latter in which both work, what women are looking for is a good partner. Everything can work.

-You are one of the people who knows the most about love. Has it served you to apply it to yourself?
-Not. I was married a long time ago and my marriage lasted less than a year. I have had 3 long partners and now I have another one for 2 years. Love is like a chocolate cake: it is not worth knowing its ingredients, you have to try it.

María José Casado Ruiz de Lóizaga

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