"A vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself." | INFJ Forum

"A vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself."

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by acd, May 25, 2009.

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  1. acd

    acd Well-known member

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/science/13tier.html?_r=2&8dpc

    Findings
    Anti-Love Drug May Be Ticket to Bliss


    By JOHN TIERNEY
    Published: January 12, 2009

    In the new issue of Nature, the neuroscientist Larry Young offers a grand unified theory of love. After analyzing the brain chemistry of mammalian pair bonding — and, not incidentally, explaining humans’ peculiar erotic fascination with breasts — Dr. Young predicts that it won’t be long before an unscrupulous suitor could sneak a pharmaceutical love potion into your drink.

    That’s the bad news. The not-so-bad news is that you may enjoy this potion if you took it knowingly with the right person. But the really good news, as I see it, is that we might reverse-engineer an anti-love potion, a vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself. Although this love vaccine isn’t mentioned in Dr. Young’s essay, when I raised the prospect he agreed it could also be in the offing.

    Could any discovery be more welcome? This is what humans have sought ever since Odysseus ordered his crew to tie him to the mast while sailing past the Sirens. Long before scientists identified neuroreceptors, long before Britney Spears’ quickie Vegas wedding or any of Larry King’s seven marriages, it was clear that love was a dangerous disease.

    Love was correctly identified as a potentially fatal chemical imbalance in the medieval tale of Tristan and Isolde, who accidentally consumed a love potion and turned into hopeless addicts. Even though they realized that her husband, the king, would punish adultery with death, they had to have their love fix.

    They couldn’t guess what was in the potion, but then, they didn’t have the benefit of Dr. Young’s research with prairie voles at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University. These mouselike creatures are among the small minority of mammals — less than 5 percent — who share humans’ propensity for monogamy. When a female prairie vole’s brain is artificially infused with oxytocin, a hormone that produces some of the same neural rewards as nicotine and cocaine, she’ll quickly become attached to the nearest male. A related hormone, vasopressin, creates urges for bonding and nesting when it is injected in male voles (or naturally activated by sex). After Dr. Young found that male voles with a genetically limited vasopressin response were less likely to find mates, Swedish researchers reported that men with a similar genetic tendency were less likely to get married. In his Nature essay, Dr. Young speculates that human love is set off by a “biochemical chain of events” that originally evolved in ancient brain circuits involving mother-child bonding, which is stimulated in mammals by the release of oxytocin during labor, delivery and nursing.

    “Some of our sexuality has evolved to stimulate that same oxytocin system to create female-male bonds,” Dr. Young said, noting that sexual foreplay and intercourse stimulate the same parts of a woman’s body that are involved in giving birth and nursing. This hormonal hypothesis, which is by no means proven fact, would help explain a couple of differences between humans and less monogamous mammals: females’ desire to have sex even when they are not fertile, and males’ erotic fascination with breasts. More frequent sex and more attention to breasts, Dr. Young said, could help build long-term bonds through a “cocktail of ancient neuropeptides,” like the oxytocin released during foreplay or orgasm.
    Researchers have achieved similar results by squirting oxytocin into people’s nostrils — not terribly sexy, but it seems to enhance feelings of trust and empathy. Although Dr. Young is not concocting any love potions (he’s looking for drugs to improve the social skills of people with autism and schizophrenia), he said there could soon be drugs that increase people’s urge to fall in love.

    “It would be completely unethical to give the drug to someone else,” he said, “but if you’re in a marriage and want to maintain that relationship, you might take a little booster shot yourself every now and then. Even now it’s not such a far-out possibility that you could use drugs in conjunction with marital therapy.”

    I see some potential here, but also big problems. Suppose you took that potion and then suddenly felt an urge to run off with the next person you spent any time with, like your dentist? What if you went to a business convention and then, like an artificially stimulated prairie vole, bonded with the nearest stranger? What if, like Tristan, you developed an overwhelming emotional connection to your boss’s spouse?

    Even if the effects could somehow be targeted to the right partner, would you want to start building a long-term relationship with a short-term drug? What happens when it wears off?

    A love vaccine seems simpler and more practical, and already there are some drugs that seem to inhibit people’s romantic impulses (see TierneyLab, at www.nytimes.com/tierneylab). Such a vaccine has already been demonstrated in prairie voles.

    “If we give an oxytocin blocker to female voles, they become like 95 percent of other mammal species,” Dr. Young said. “They will not bond no matter how many times they mate with a male or hard how he tries to bond. They mate, it feels really good and they move on if another male comes along. If love is similarly biochemically based, you should in theory be able to suppress it in a similar way.”

    I doubt many people would want to permanently suppress love, but a temporary vaccine could come in handy. Spouses going through midlife crises would not be so quick to elope with their personal trainers; elderly widowers might consult their lawyers before marrying someone resembling Anna Nicole Smith. Love is indeed a many-splendored thing, but sometimes we all need to tie ourselves to the mast.
     
  2. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Not good. I don't see how the vast majority of people will do anything but abuse this.
     
  3. Bored Now

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    hmm, I could use a love vaccine. I fall in love with everybody if I spend enough time with them. It's appalling really. It doesn't even take much. If you tell me you like me first, I'm pretty much instantly infatuated with you. It'll wear off just as quickly if you're a jerk, but if you're on your best behavior...yeah. It would be nice to reign that in a bit.
     
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  4. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    This has the potential to completely ruin society.
     
  5. Eniko

    Eniko May snark if provoked
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    I find this intensely creepy and worrying on both ends of the scale, though I do wonder what would happen if anything like this actually became reality. Fortunately for me I don't have to worry much because I know how much articles like this like to run away with the most rudimentary discoveries in science and extrapolate them into something far flung and completely improbable, so I doubt love potions or anti-love shots are ever going to be a reality.
     
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  6. OP
    acd

    acd Well-known member

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    How so, Dragon?
     
  7. Lune Froide

    Lune Froide Community Member

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    Wait, so, a marriage is falling apart so they take love potion to sustain it? In a mid-life crisis a woman avoids the irrational urge to leave her man by consuming the potion? That easy?! Intriguing!

    I must agree Eniko and say that where my thoughts took me on this one left me creeped out. It's interesting though to come to terms with the fact that 'love' comes down to biochemistry. Takes the imagination out of it... but from my perspective, imagination and effort is lacking in a lot more than just society's relationships these days.
     
  8. OP
    acd

    acd Well-known member

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    I think it would be excellent biological warfare, at least. Make mass populations fall wildly in love with each other and they're too distracted to fight back or nuke other countries..
    This puts me in mind to write a sci-fi (though not so FI) erotica story..
     
  9. Lune Froide

    Lune Froide Community Member

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    There must be a jealousy vaccine!

    Consider me a fan of the story already. Can one of the characters be named Angus Chakraborty?
     
  10. OP
    acd

    acd Well-known member

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    Chakraborty? Why, that's the most awesomest name I've ever heard! YES!
     
  11. Julia

    Julia Community Member

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    Strictly speaking I don't need either drug, but can see some appeal. I *never* have trouble stirring up the infatuation for my love, and I have this overly strong ability for self control. There are times in my life it would have been tempting to try to equalize attraction in one direction or the other, but that would be to limit my own needs and not to try to stir them up. My head would explode if I stirred it up. That would be really, really, really bad.

    I can feel the part of love that is chemical and the part that isn't. The part that hungers for the other person and reacts with physical sensations is the chemical part. The part that is a loyal friend and wants to see them succeed and works for their best interest is the choice part. Sometimes sex involves both parts.

    There are some really complicated ethical questions that would result from this. Actual scenarios where the questions of choice and consent become unclear. Or maybe it wouldn't be any bigger a deal than Viagra.
     
    #11 Julia, May 26, 2009
    Last edited: May 26, 2009
  12. bamf

    bamf Is Watching You
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    Great...a drug that will make it even harder for me to impress the girls.

    Yay science!
     
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  13. anica

    anica dark dreamer
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    "A vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself"

    Like Julia, I'm aware of both the biochemical aspects of love as well as the part of love that prompts me to act in another's best interests and contribute in whatever way I can to his/her wellbeing. It is the latter that I value most because free will and my own humanity play a larger role. While these two aspects of love don't necessarily conflict, and in optimum circumstances, complement each other, a "love potion" such as described in the article would definitely reduce free will, perhaps even overshadow it. The vaccine which would inhibit bonding would do the same in that bonding grows from the desire to act in another's best interests, even place another's needs above your own from time to time (though too much of a good thing can be unhealthy), and it makes me more human. Anything that would reduce or eliminate that would reduce my choice to act on another's behalf out of love would be a bad thing in my book.

    I would just as soon continue in my own bumbling, human way, making my mistakes as I go. Enough of my life is already ruled by chemistry which controls my emotions.
     
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  14. Eniko

    Eniko May snark if provoked
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    Honestly this is why I doubt it'd work in the first place. I refer you back to my statement earlier about how articles like this extrapolate rudimentary findings into the improbable.

    I'm sure part of love and desire and whatever is chemical, but to just discount thousands upon thousands of years of evolution of humans as social creatures with social mores and - oh I don't know - conscious rational thought is dumbing it down a lot. Who's to say the anti-love potion would really make your love go away? There's a lot more to human behaviour and emotion than can be explained by chemical bonding.
     
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  15. corvidae

    corvidae ohai internets
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    Brave New World?
     
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  16. slant

    slant Ruboobie
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    It proves that love is a sexuality based concept. No surprise there.
     
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  17. Julia

    Julia Community Member

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    +1
     
    #17 Julia, May 26, 2009
    Last edited: May 26, 2009
  18. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    Please elaborate.

    Not exactly: this research is about oxytocin, which is linked to long term attachment. Sexual desire remains; the difference is that when oxytocin blockers are taken, sexual interaction does not contribute to an emotional bond with the partner.
     
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  19. slant

    slant Ruboobie
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    Hmm. I might think about this and come back later.
     
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  20. Puck

    Puck Perilous Pixie
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    I don't like the idea of sex without love, in any of it's forms. It happens anyway. I figure the majority of people will choose to evolve this way, leaving a minority who will evolve a different way. Not that it's anything new. Just another step along that road.
     
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