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The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attractionby Larry Young
Synopses & Reviews
How much control do we have over love? Much less than we like to think. All that mystery, all that poetry, all those complex behaviors surrounding human bonding leading to the most life-changing decisions we’ll ever make, are unconsciously driven by a few molecules in our brains.
How does love begin? How can two strangers come to the conclusion that it would not only be pleasant to share their lives, but that they must share them? How can a man say he loves his wife, yet still cheat on her? Why do others stay in relationships even after the romance fades? How is it possible to fall in love with the “wrong” person? How do people come to have a “type”?
Physical attraction, jealousy, infidelity, mother-infant bonding—all the behaviors that so often leave us befuddled—are now being teased out of the fog of mystery thanks to today’s social neuroscience. Larry Young, one of the world’s leading experts in the field, and journalist Brian Alexander explain how those findings apply to you.
Drawing on real human stories and research from labs around the world, The Chemistry Between Us is a bold attempt to create a “grand unified theory” of love. Some of the mind-blowing insights include:
Young and Alexander place their revelations into historical, political, and social contexts. In the process, they touch on everything from gay marriage to why single-mother households might not be good for society. The Chemistry Between Us offers powerful insights into love, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and family life that will prove to be enlightening, controversial, and thought provoking.
"Combine a first-class neuroscientist like Young, director of Emory University's Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, and an award-winning science journalist like Alexander, and the result is likely to be an engaging book about cutting edge science. They do a wonderful job of mixing and matching human studies with those of other animals to explain how chemicals influence and, at times, control behavior associated with sex, love, and longing. They document, for example, how minor genetic differences between meadow voles and prairie voles lead to striking differences in mating strategies. Prairie voles, like humans, form stable pair bonds, but, the authors note, significant 'extra-marital' vole sex regularly occurs — it just doesn't lead to 'divorce.' Although Young and Alexander take an exceedingly reductionistic view of human behavior, explaining how the addition of exogenous chemicals can decrease trust or increase both aggression and feelings of love, they are careful not to conclude that humans are without free will. The only drawback to this fine book is a certain glibness in the authors' attempts at humor. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A neuroscientist and journalist offer a revolutionary model of desire, sex, love, and family.
Since the dawn of humanity, we've been mystified by desire, love, and the compulsion to bond with others. How do we fall in love, and back out again? What accounts for the variation in the ways people express love, and toward whom? What force keeps people together, and, if it's so powerful, how can anybody ever cheat?
With award-winning journalist Brian Alexander, neuroscientist Larry Young peers inside the living brain to discover how chemicals acting on circuits drive such seemingly complex behaviors. It turns out that on a molecular level, love is not so mysterious after all. The authors explain the mechanisms behind emotional bonding, physical attraction, jealousy, infidelity, and the very essence of what it means to be human.
Young and Alexander offer nothing less than a grand unified theory of love, sex, gender, sexual orientation and family life that's sure to prove both enlightening and controversial.
About the Author
Larry Young is the Director of the new Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, William P. Timmie Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine, and Division Chief for the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
Brian Alexander is the “Sexploration” columnist for msnbc.com where he writes about sexuality and sexual health. He is a two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award.
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