On Romantic Love Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2015-01-29
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Romantic love presents some of life's most challenging questions. Can we choose who to love? Is romantic love rational? Can we love more than one person at a time? And can we make ourselves fall out of love?

In On Romantic Love, Berit Brogaard attempts to get to the bottom of love's many contradictions. This short book, informed by both historical and cutting edge philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, combines a new theory of romantic love with entertaining anecdotes from real life and accessible explanations of the neuroscience underlying our wildest passions.

Against the grain, Brogaard argues that love is an emotion; that it can be, at turns, both rational and irrational; and that it can be manifested in degrees. We can love one person more than another and we can love a person a little or a lot or not at all. And love isn't even always something we consciously feel. However, love -- like other emotions, both conscious and not -- is subject to rational control, and falling in or out of it can be a deliberate choice. This engaging and innovative look at a universal topic, featuring original line drawings by illustrator Gareth Southwell, illuminates the processes behind heartbreak, obsession, jealousy, attachment, and more.

Author Biography

Berit Brogaard is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Perception, University of Miami. Her book Transient Truths was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. In her academic research she specializes in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and the cognitive sciences.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Letter from a Friend

Chapter 2: The Chemistry of Love
Your Brain on Crack
Beliefs and Brain Chemistry
Taking the Drug Away
Addicted to Grief
Emotional Pain
Stress, Pimples and Gray Hair
Love and Hate

Chapter 3: The Philosophy of Love
Love as an Emotion
Basic and Complex Emotions
The James-Lange Theory
The Conjunctive Theory of Emotions
The Connection Problem
The Problem of Emotional Responses to Fiction
The Perceived-Response Theory

Chapter 4: Irrational Love
Does the Idea of Irrational Love Make Sense?
You Call It Madness, I Call It Love
Irrational Compassionate Love
Love as a Moral Emotion
Love as a History
Love and Personal Identity
Is Love Unconditional?
Love and Personal Identity
Love and Sex

Chapter 5: Relationships and Insecure Attachment
Avoidant Attachment Style
Secure Versus Insecure Attachment
Avoidant Attachment
Anxious Attachment
Childish Relationships
Jealousy and Anxious Attachment
Attachment and the Relationship Theory
Can Attachment Styles Change?
Familiar Love
Attachment Love
Can Animals Love?
The Other Dimension of Sex

Chapter 6: Our Unconscious Affections
Opponents of Unconscious Affection
Unconscious Affect
Unconscious Love
In Your Dreams
Is Love a Disposition

Chapter 7: He Is Just Not That into You
(And Other In-Between Cases)
Prototype Theory
Non-Monogamous Love as In-Between Cases
"Love" is a Gradable Verb
He's Just Not That Into You

Chapter 8: How To Fall Out of Love
Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche
Psychoanalysis and Talk Therapy
Emotional Regulation and Avoidance Behavior
The Repetition Technique
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Deep Relaxation and Meditation
Heartbreak and Placement Conditioning
The Sinclair Method
Out, Damned Spot: Using Soap to Wash Away Your Negative Feelings
Emotional Regulation as a Route to Happiness

The End: The Heart Wants What It Wants


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