chownah wrote:Do you think that "romantic love" as used in the article means sex, or emotion, or both combined, or none of the above.
an fMRI study of romantic love wrote:
...These and other results suggest that dopaminergic reward pathways contribute to the “general arousal” component of romantic love; romantic love is primarily a motivation system, rather than an emotion; this drive is distinct from the sex drive
; romantic love changes across time; and romantic love shares biobehavioral similarities with mammalian attraction
It's an interesting line to walk, but they are not the same.
If I dig around on wiki, I can read that the two parts of the brain which were mentioned in my earlier post,
Although the nucleus accumbens has traditionally been studied for its role in addiction, it plays an equal role in processing many rewards such as food and sex. The nucleus accumbens is selectively activated during the perception of pleasant, emotionally arousing pictures and during mental imagery of pleasant, emotional scenes.
& the olfactory tubucle (the other part of the ventral striatum
) are involved in reward systems (see below). The important point, of course, is that the experience of pervasive compassion differs from visualizing the pain of others or otherwise taking it on.
Perhaps it is as you suggest, that an amorphous world idea is not conducive to empathy, but instead to this broad compassion. On the one hand, self- and other-awareness tend to develop together in infants because they both require a way of secondary representation
in the mind, and empathy is probably a by-product
of this (with potentially interesting consequences in terms of asmi-mana).
By way of contrast, we can consider the neural correlates
of maternal and romantic love. I note with interest:
Romantic and maternal love are highly rewarding experiences. Both are linked to the perpetuation of the species and therefore have a closely linked biological function of crucial evolutionary importance. Yet almost nothing is known about their neural correlates in the human. We therefore used fMRI to measure brain activity in mothers while they viewed pictures of their own and of acquainted children, and of their best friend and of acquainted adults as additional controls.
The activity specific to maternal attachment was compared to that associated to romantic love described in our earlier study and to the distribution of attachment-mediating neurohormones established by other studies. Both types of attachment activated regions specific to each, as well as overlapping regions in the brain's reward system that coincide with areas rich in oxytocin and vasopressin receptors. Both deactivated a common set of regions associated with negative emotions, social judgment and ‘mentalizing’, that is, the assessment of other people's intentions and emotions.
We conclude that human attachment employs a push–pull mechanism that overcomes social distance by deactivating networks used for critical social assessment and negative emotions, while it bonds individuals through the involvement of the reward circuitry, explaining the power of love to motivate and exhilarate.
Probably there is some overlap, of course, especially around the reward circuits, but it may be worth emphasizing again that romantic love in terms of broad compassion is not necessarily paired with sexual/sensual pursuits, and furthermore that this sort of compassion is different
(There may be something important to learn about the term anudayata, 'sympathy', which is one of the four ways to protect oneself by protecting others, and how this might relate to empathy. I think they are probably different in terms of how they motivate the individual, if nothing else, and this probably has consequences for one's bhavana; the bolded portion in the last quote, above, suggests the possibility that empathy and broad compassion may be opposed processes...)