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:
- Love can get such a grip on us because it is, literally, an addiction.
- To a woman falling in love, a man is like her baby.
- Why it’s false to say society makes gender, and how it’s possible to have the body of one gender and the brain of another.
- Why some people are more likely to cheat than others.
- Why we sometimes truly can’t resist temptation.
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.
"An entertaining overview of the science of physical attraction."
"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."
"Why do we drunk-dial our exes? Why do strippers make more money when they are ovulating? Why do fools fall in love? These are some of the questions explored by Young (Psychiatry/Emory Univ.) and Alexander (America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction, 2008). The authors argue that the causes are related to the potent, sometimes irresistible, chemical cocktails our bodies produce. In interviews with scientists of all stripes (psychiatrists, neuroscientists, researchers), Young and Alexander examine their ideas and how they pertain to us, often illuminating their explanations with funny, and sometimes raunchy, anecdotes... the book is sure to hook even casual science readers with its subject, because, as Young and Alexander point out, “the combination of erotic desire and the love it leads to may be the most powerful force on earth. An entertaining overview of the science of physical attraction." —Kirkus Reviews
“This lively book by a great neuroscientist and a savvy writer is the first popular account to tie together what we have learned about the chemistry of sex, love, and family bonds. Progress in this field has been nothing short of breathtaking, and Larry Young is recognized as its leading pioneer. The way our brains react when boy meets girl determines the stability of marriage and the future of the human family.”—FRANS DE WAAL, C.H. Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory University and author of The Age of Empathy“…One wild and entertaining ride. The prose in The Chemistry Between Us is lively and fun – and provides a fresh and unapologetically pointed analysis on what understanding the neurobiological correlates of love may mean for both our relationships and our culture.”—Kayt Sukel, New Scientist
“If you’ve ever been curious—and let’s face it, we all have—about the intricate dance of biology and behavior that both brings men and women together and pushes them apart, then The Chemistry Between Us is the book for you. Authors Larry Young and Brian Alexander explore questions as gentle as parenting and as edgy as sexual addiction with consistent style, humor, and insight. The result is a story that’s fun, fascinating, and, finally, insightful.”—DEBORAH BLUM, Pulitzer Prize winner; author of Sex on the Brain, Love at Goon Park, and The Poisoner’s Handbook “Nothing fascinates us more than why we fall in love and what makes us choose that particular person. The Chemistry Between Us sheds light on just this mysterious phenomenon with a thorough look at the neuroscience and psychology of the process. Whether you have a desire for better intellectual understanding or a personal curiosity as to why you or your partner do what you do, this book is a super-enjoyable class in love, sex, and all its dark mysteries. A fascinating and stimulating read!”—GAIL SALTZ, MD, NBC Today show contributor and clinical associate professor of psychiatry, New York-Presbyterian Hospital
“Dr. Young is one of the science world’s most respected authorities on the chemistry underlying the most complicated and beloved interactions of our species. The insight and candor he and Mr. Alexander provide in this simultaneously entertaining and compelling book will impress both novice and scientific aficionado alike. What an intellectually and emotionally satisfying exploration!”—MAYIM BIALIK, PhD, CLEC, actress on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and author of Beyond the Sling “You may not need this book in order to meet the love of your life but if you are head over heels in love with someone this book will go a long way toward telling you what has happened in your head and body to make this so.”—ARTHUR CAPLAN, PhD, William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty professor and head of the Division of Bioethics, NYU Langone Medical Center
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.
How does love begin? How can a man say he loves his wife, yet still cheat on her? Why do we stay in relationships even after the romance fades? How is it possible to fall in love with the wrong” person?
Physical attraction, jealousy, infidelity, mother/infant bondingall the behaviors that so often leave us befuddledare now being demystified by todays social neuroscience. Larry Young, one of the worlds leading experts in the field, and journalist Brian Alexander explain how those findings apply to you and boldly attempt to create a grand unified theory” of love.
About the Author
Larry Young, PhD
, is the director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, the William P. Timmie Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine, and chief of the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He lives in Atlanta. Brian Alexander
is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion
and America Unzipped: The Search for Sex and Satisfaction.
He lives in San Diego.