What is love?

Kari Eickholdt, Photo & Design Editor

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Love in the broadest sense can be defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection” or “a great interest and pleasure in something”. Yet, the word itself can be interpreted to have countless meanings depending on the person.

Scientifically, love is an emotion that someone feels which can be seemingly simplistic or even more complex than one could think. Once we come across someone or something we love, the sensations― thumping heartbeat, sweaty palms, jumbled words ― are associated with emotions stemming from the heart.

In actuality, love is an emotion that stems from the human brain. Romanticized love is characterized by the categories of attachment, lust and attraction. Under each category can be seen to have an amount of hormones released from the brain.

For instance, the feeling of attachment releases Oxycontin, playing a role in social bonding and sexual reproduction, and vasopressin, playing a role in balancing the amount of water within your bloodstream.

When feeling attraction towards someone or something, the brain releases the hormones of  dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Dopamine controls cognition, behavior and emotion. Norepinephrine controls the increase of blood pressure and blood glucose which can be closely tied with the feeling of an adrenaline rush. Leaving serotonin to control the feeling of well-being and happiness.

When feeling lust towards an individual, testosterone and estrogen are hormones released. Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, and estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, is associated with secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive development.

That being said, the universal symbol for love being represented by a heart is not scientifically correct in the aspect of true love. Love is an emotion brought up of hormones released from the brain.

For more information on what love actually means to staff and students at RHS, make sure to check out the video on the Q and A (question and answer) video below.