A study published in Science Daily that was conducted by Syracuse University Professor Stephanie Ortigue determined that it only takes a fifth of a second to fall in love.
So often in my practice I talk to clients about their patterns of choosing a partner and unfortunately those patterns are often unhealthy. When driven by pure emotion and in the absence of rational thought, people can be swept away quite instantaneously. This study revealed that the act of falling in love uses 12 different areas of the brain which all elicit different responses. Some of those feelings are similar to those that would be experienced through the use of cocaine and others stimulate a more cognitive or intellectual part of the brain. It is no wonder that people often describe feeling out of control in the early stages of a relationship.
Unconditional love such as that between a mother and a child is said to originate in the middle brain. Romantic love is said to originate in the part of the brain responsible for higher order thinking and ideas such as those around body image. In other research, blood levels of NGF or Nerve Growth Factor were shown to be elevated in couples who had just fallen in love.
All of the studies in this area do confirm that love actually has a scientific basis and while that might not sound romantic to some, for clinicians it is a hopeful path to treating those with a broken heart. By understanding how and why people fall in love clinicians will be better able to design and implement treatment for their heartbroken patients. The knowledge can help both patients and practitioners appreciate the powerful nature of falling love from an intellectual as well as an emotional basis.