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EP21 Keynote 07 - LUST; ROMANCE; ATTACHMENT: The Drive to Love, Who We Choose and the Neural Foundations of Love Addiction, Partnership Compatibility and Relationship Happiness - Helen Fisher, PhD

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Topic Areas:
Addiction |  Attachment |  Couples Therapy |  Keynotes |  Love |  Relationships
Evolution of Psychotherapy |  Evolution of Psychotherapy 2021
Helen E. Fisher, PhD
Course Levels:
Master Degree or Higher in Health-Related Field
1 hour
Audio and Video
Original Program Date:
Dec 03, 2021
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Is technology changing love? Why do you fall in love with one person rather than another? Why is the rejected brain primed for psychotherapy? How can you use neuroscience to keep love alive? And where are we headed in our digital age? Anthropologist and neuroscientist Dr. Helen Fisher uses her brain scanning work (fMRI) to discuss three basic brain systems that evolved for mating and reproduction--the sex drive, romantic love, and attachment; each plays a pivotal role in human health and happiness. And she uses her data on 50,000 single Americans to explain a new (and positive) trend in courtship, what she calls “slow love.” She then discusses her data on the biological foundations of human personality—specifically four basic styles of thinking and behaving that impact love relationships and all other social interactions. Last, using her fMRI data, she explores why we are naturally drawn to “him” or “her,” the brain circuitry of love addiction, the neural anatomy of long-term partnership happiness, and how to use neuroscience to keep love alive.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn about the brain regions that become active when you have been rejected in love, in order to explain: a) why we suffer both mentally and physically; b) why this psychic suffering evolved; c) and why the rejected brain is primed for psychotherapy.
  2. Participants will learn what happens in the happily-married brain. Using her (and her colleagues) fMRI experiments, Fisher shows that people in long-term happy relationships exhibit activity in three major brain regions: a) a region associated with empathy; b) a region associated with controlling your own stress and your own emotions; and c) a brain region associated with the human ability to overlook negative things about your partner, known as “positive illusions.”
  3. Participants will learn about four forms of natural intelligence, associated with the dopamine, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen systems.  Using data on 28,000 single Americans, she shows why we are naturally drawn to “him” or “her” and how to improve relationship conflicts using this new understanding of personality.
  4. Participants will learn about the three basic brain systems that evolved to orchestrate human reproduction and parenting: a) the sex drive; b) romantic love; and c) attachment, as well as ways to keep all three basic brain systems alive and why happy partnerships are essential to good health and long life. 



Helen E. Fisher, PhD's Profile

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Helen E. Fisher, PhD, is a biological anthropologist and a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She has written five books on the evolution and future of human sexuality, monogamy, adultery and divorce, gender differences in the brain, the chemistry of romantic love, and most recently, human personality types and why we fall in love with one person rather than another.