January 21, 2006 at 11:11 am #9923
another good piece from Edge.com.
It relates to Free Will discussion below.
If we use technology to blunt our pain, are we losing our free will, losing our evolutionary edge, and gradually becoming numb?
a really tough question for those who feel they cannot go on living without the support of anti-depressants.
While I feel the combo of qigong and inner alchemy can resolve many problems and better, prevent most of them, the reality is that not everyone has access to or the discipline to use those tools. Or that problems/diseases surface that are beyond their level to deal with.
IF PATTERNS OF HUMAN LOVE SUBTLETY CHANGE,
ALL SORTS OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ATROCITIES CAN ESCALATE
By Helen Fisher
“What is your dangerous idea?” Over one hundred big thinkers answered this
question, as part of The Edge’s Annual Question for 2006
If patterns of human love subtlety change, all sorts of social and political
atrocities can escalate.
Serotonin-enhancing antidepressants (such as Prozac and many others) can
jeopardize feelings of romantic love, feelings of attachment to a spouse or
partner, one’s fertility and one’s genetic future.
I am working with psychiatrist Andy Thomson on this topic. We base our
hypothesis on patient reports, fMRI studies, and other data on the brain.
Foremost, as SSRIs elevate serotonin they also suppress dopaminergic
pathways in the brain. And because romantic love is associated with elevated
activity in dopaminergic pathways, it follows that SSRIs can jeopardize
feelings of intense romantic love. SSRIs also curb obsessive thinking and
blunt the emotions — central characteristics of romantic love. One patient
described this reaction well, writing: “After two bouts of depression in 10
years, my therapist recommended I stay on serotonin-enhancing
antidepressants indefinitely. As appreciative as I was to have regained my
health, I found that my usual enthusiasm for life was replaced with
blandness. My romantic feelings for my wife declined drastically. With the
approval of my therapist, I gradually discontinued my medication. My
enthusiasm returned and our romance is now as strong as ever. I am prepared
to deal with another bout of depression if need be, but in my case the
long-term side effects of antidepressants render them off limits”.
SSRIs also suppress sexual desire, sexual arousal and orgasm in as many as
73% of users. These sexual responses evolved to enhance courtship, mating
and parenting. Orgasm produces a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin,
chemicals associated with feelings of attachment and pairbonding behaviors.
Orgasm is also a device by which women assess potential mates. Women do not
reach orgasm with every coupling and the “fickle” female orgasm is now
regarded as an adaptive mechanism by which women distinguish males who are
willing to expend time and energy to satisfy them. The onset of female
anorgasmia may jeopardize the stability of a long-term mateship as well.
Men who take serotonin-enhancing antidepressants also inhibit evolved
mechanisms for mate selection, partnership formation and marital stability.
The penis stimulates to give pleasure and advertise the male’s psychological
and physical fitness; it also deposits seminal fluid in the vaginal canal,
fluid that contains dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, estrogen
and other chemicals that most likely influence a female partner’s behavior.
These medications can also influence one’s genetic future. Serotonin
increases prolactin by stimulating prolactin releasing factors. Prolactin
can impair fertility by suppressing hypothalamic GnRH release, suppressing
pituitary FSH and LH release, and/or suppressing ovarian hormone production.
Clomipramine, a strong serotonin-enhancing antidepressant, adversely affects
sperm volume and motility.
I believe that Homo sapiens has evolved (at least) three primary, distinct
yet overlapping neural systems for reproduction. The sex drive evolved to
motivate ancestral men and women to seek sexual union with a range of
partners; romantic love evolved to enable them to focus their courtship
energy on a preferred mate, thereby conserving mating time and energy;
attachment evolved to enable them to rear a child through infancy together.
The complex and dynamic interactions between these three brain systems
suggest that any medication that changes their chemical checks and balances
is likely to alter an individual’s courting, mating and parenting tactics,
ultimately affecting their fertility and genetic future.
The reason this is a dangerous idea is that the huge drug industry is
heavily invested in selling these drugs; millions of people currently take
these medications worldwide; and as these drugs become generic, many more
will soon imbibe — inhibiting their ability to fall in love and stay in
love. And if patterns of human love subtlety change, all sorts of social and
political atrocities can escalate.
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