The Alchemy of Love: Choosing Between Feelings and Reason. What’s Best for Us?


Have you ever wondered how was it possible for some of your acquaintances, because it’s impossible not to have at least one, to come at terms when talking about heart and brains reasoning?

How did they manage to bring peace and mutual understanding between feelings and ration without being necessary to involve a whole defenseless ‘armada’ in order to solve their personal issues?

This is something that troubles our minds ever since antiquity or even from much far-fetched times, when Persephone, fictional character in Greek mythology, daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of nature, Zeus the master god, gets kidnapped by Hades, god of the underworld, who was also the brother of Zeus and who had fallen in love with her. Because when “love is blind, it makes you act as a lunatic”.

The legend of Persephone begins when Hades fell in love with the beautiful daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Knowing that Demeter, the goddess of nature and harvest, would have never agreed to a marriage, Hades asked Zeus for his blessing. Unable to refuse his own brother, Zeus consented to the marriage between Hades and Persephone, provided that Hades himself would take the girl to his kingdom, Persephone being carefully guarded by her mother.

One day though, Hades managed to kidnap Persephone and to take her to the underworld. However, Demeter was so desperate for the missing of her beloved daughter that she left Olympus and for nine days let the whole vegetation that was under her care wither. Eventually, Zeus had to reveal to Demeter where Persephone was being kept and tomediate a compromise with Hades, who had meanwhile become her husband. Although freed from Hades’ kingdom, Persephone remained attached to the world of shadows after she ate pomegranate seeds there. Because of her attachment (or due to the punishment anyone who had consumed food or drink there would have received: having to spend an eternity in the underworld), every winter she has to go back to the underworld and spend a third of the year there. That is why winter is the season of Demeter’s despair, the one in which all vegetation dies.

This leads to the spring, the season of revival, when most people fall in love, start over or simply begin to live again and to enjoy their emotions on deeper grounds.  

The explanation coming from various neurobiologists for the parallel between love and spring is that when we have the loved one aside, it is just like spring season: everything flourishes, everything has more light, more happiness, we are generally happier. On the opposite, when we keep distance from this loved person of ours, everything becomes opaque and dark.
“Bottom line, it is not the heart that tells us who we feel good with, but the brain, and everything corresponds to the chemical exchanges the latter releases, which helps us make decisions based on emotions. Scientifically, when falling in love, impressive physiological changes occur, we produce more hormones, our state of mind changes significantly, we even come to reach a different perception of reality and there are many substances that influence us when we are falling in love,” state the experts.


Love neurobiology

Human body 👉 Estrogen, Testosterone 👉 Preoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus 👉 Amygdala 👉 Neural signals 👉 Heart

Falling in love creates addiction because of the dopamine and serotonin released and due to the hormones that reach the prefrontal cortex, placed in the center of our brain, where we will find a special area called the pleasure circuit.

Dopamine and noradrenaline make us obsessive-compulsive when we are in love. Through physical contact, we release endorphins in the brain, potentiating oxytocin. Our hearts also have neurons that receive signals from the brain, 60% – 65% of heart cells not being muscular, but neuronal. The heart has its own neural network that works independently of the brain, developed by 40,000 neurons and a complex and dense network of neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells. Thanks to these elaborate circuits, it seems that the heart can make decisions and take action independently of the brain; and that it can learn, remember and even perceive.

There are four types of connections that start from the heart and go to the brain: the neurological communication through the transmission of neural impulses (the heart sends more information to the brain than it receives, being the only organ in the body with this property, and it can inhibit or activate certain parts of the brain depending on the circumstances – heart can influence our perception of reality and therefore our reactions); the biochemical information through hormones and neurotransmitters (it is the heart that produces the ANF (Atrial natriuretic factor) hormone, which ensures the general balance of the body: homeostasis.

One of its effects is to inhibit the production of the stress hormone and to produce and release oxytocin, which is known as the love hormone.); the biophysical communication using pressure waves (It seems that through the heart rhythm and its variations,the heart sends messages to the brain and the rest of the body.); energy communication: the electromagnetic field of the heart is the most powerful of all the organs of the body, 5,000 times more intense than that of the brain (And it has been observed that it changes depending on the emotional state. When we feel afraid, frustrated or stressed it becomes chaotic. It has been also discoveredthat the magnetic field of the heart extends around the body between two and four meters, which means that everyone around us receives the energy information contained in our heart.).

“We are doped when we are in love, we see what is not there,” neurobiologists argue. The heart is like a brain, actually, they add. Although we cannot totally agree with Aristotel, who was saying approximately 2.400 years ago that “we think with our hearts, the brains being only dedicated to cooling the blood that our hearts used for the thinking process.

The fact that the heart has “a mind of its own, its own individuality, is not a myth, and a heart transplant can prove it at any moment. For example, a young woman who was being into junk food and had a heart transplant has changed her tastes and her eating habits drastically right after she recovered from the surgery: she has completely given up junk food in favor of healthy meals.

How can we say if we have good or bad interoception?

Interoception is defined as the sense of the internal state of the body. This can be both conscious and non-conscious. A study entitled “Investigating the decision-making process”, conducted by the University of Cambridge, found that at the grounds of the decision-making process stand heart palpations and their faster or slower pace, acceleration rhythm leading to making favorable or unfavorable decisions.

What is the mysterious relationship between the heart and the brain?

In his new book, the renowned cardiologist Jorge Tartaglione investigates the organ that became the center of life and its fascinating secrets. Brain and heart have a symbiotic relationship; they cannot live without each other.

It seems that the heart was found enzymatically halfway between the brain and the other muscles. The so-called brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), present in the human brain, is found in greater quantity also in the heart. BNP cannot enter the brain, it does not cross the barrier called the blood brain barrier, which is responsible for deciding who enters and who does not. Therefore the brain also produces it in order to be able to carry out the tasks that it has to do inside. There is a curious relationship between heart and brain, since both synthesize BNP independently.

This connection can generate different types of dialogue: turbulent, in the presence of bad moods, acute or chronic stress, negative emotions or depression, unfavorable psychosocial factors, such as economic crises, social inequality, tragedies or pessimism. Not only can this connection create all the above, but as well positive conversations that generate well-being and health, such as laughter, joy, love and optimism.

Heart vs. mind

In love, should we choose with our hearts or with the reason? It is the question not even a masterpiece such as “Sense and sensibility” by Jane Austen couldn’t answer, both leading characters of the novel – Elinor and Marianne – struggling the intertwine reason and feelings in a world ruled by social status and money.

Listening to your heart, when it comes to romantic experiences, is what seems most natural. It’s the heart that made you fall into that man’s arms, so it’s your heart that you question to find out whether to stay there or not. Following your feelings seems the most direct route to happiness, and when that is not possible, listening to your heart at least gives you assurances of being consistent with yourself and of assuming your emotions.

But then how can your own heart lead you to despair, even to self-destruction, when it tells you to hang on to a partner who is not made for you or worse, who does not respect you? Can love be such a bad guide? In reality, your heart does not only shelter the feeling of love, but all the irrational components of your personality: your memories, your traumas, your lack of love, your lack of self-confidence or your beliefs about how a couple should be. Thus, by listening only to your heart, you can be pushed towards a man by your faults more than by Cupid.

How do you know when your heart is leading you in the wrong direction? When a relationship destroys you or makes you dependent, it is the point you should start reconsidering it. The man who puts you in a situation of sacrificing what matters to you for him, be it your tranquility, because he is not reassuring, or your ambitions, because he selfishly demands all your attention at the expense of your plans, is not the man your destiny has for you. Your great love is the one that does not puts in conflict your heart and your reason.

Nevertheless, you might have often heard this saying of the famous philosopher Pascal: “the heart has its reasons that reason does not know”.

Neurobiologist Jean-Didier Vincent tells us that “Primordial emotions are the essence of man, passing through the moments of desire and shared consciousness. I am because I am moved and because you know it.” Our need to be understood by others is therefore a pillar of our well-being. On the same page, following the words of Emily Dickinson could make a safe way of living: “If I can prevent a heart from breaking, I will not have lived in vain.”

Conclusion: The heart or the reason?

Heart or reason: this is a false debate. You shouldn’t have to choose between the two. We have to balance our choice between the two axes. You should never look for one extreme or another.

It’s not just a matter of choosing between heart andreason. The questions are: “Where are you going in your life? What do you want?”

Be aware of what stands behind each of your decisions! As often, your decisions are based on a personal imbalance that you seek to compensate through your relationship.

So, it is not a matter of heart or reason, you must make the best choice for yourself, for your balance and for your personal life in a long term perspective.





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