Jim Butler
December 2016.

If MDMA can mimic the neurobiology of love, is that experience as valid as 'real' love?

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There is some evidence that, when people fall in love, the brain releases a set of chemicals – such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These same compounds are also released by taking amphetamine. But does that mean that taking drugs can mimic the experience of love?

No. Taking MDMA, for example, may mimic feelings of passion – we become more excited and develop strong feelings of euphoria – but passion is only one aspect of love. In Robert Sternberg’s view, for example, this form of love is missing any feelings of intimacy or commitment.

And the outcomes of taking drugs like MDMA and falling in love – what we do as a result – are also usually very different. Just because you take drugs does not mean that you love in the way that Fromm talks about.

I guess it comes back to the question of how we go about defining love. There isn’t one single way of defining what love is, which makes it all the more difficult to mimic the experience of love by taking drugs. 

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