Esther Murbach, born in the middle of the 20th century, grew up in Basel and is living in Basel and Galway. She studied languages, history and philosophy in Basel and Berlin. She is a journalist and translator writing German and English. Since 2008 she has been a freelance author, published four novels, one short story collection and one poetry collection in Switzerland. In Ireland her work has appeared in The Galway Review, The Galway Review Anthology, The Galway Advertiser and Crannóg.
Love – A Hormonal Aberration?
By Esther Murbach
Poets and romantics have always praised LOVE. Passion and ecstasy, the most sublime of all feelings! Ethicists and priests used to stress the more sublimated aspects of the sublime emotion – altruism, sacrifice, loyalty, friendship. All God-given, whatever name this God may bear.
Along came the 20th and 21st centuries and neurosciences with the so-called imaging technologies. Neurologists peeping into human brains where they claim to find all the answers: love is a neurologic reaction, an aberration triggered by stimuli like pheromones and hormonal boosts. By endorphin, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and other substances with fancy names, self-produced by the human body or administered to it. Even the consumption of bananas or chocolate is supposed to induce a phony happiness, as well as visual stimuli, even when they only stem from cosmetically or surgically enhanced body parts.
Nowadays man and woman can be connected to electrodes, these to a computer which produces a glowing picture of the brain’s reward centre on the screen. This region of the brain is also called the mesolimbic system, and it does not care if the flash stems from an amorous impulse, a drug or a fit of delusional madness. It glows, period!
Therefore the deduction: love equals madness and a drug-induced flash.
So, how come that the hormonal flashes in the reward centre can lead to permanent relationships? Which are sometimes not rewarding but more of a long haul? Actually, altruism and sacrifice are still in practice, even nowadays. I’m sure that other scientists, e.g. behaviourists, can come up with plausible darwinistic explanations.
Know what? I don’t give a damn. I’d rather believe in a feeling of mythical well-being with a higher, a spiritual purpose. And my reward centre I will reward with a big piece of chocolate.