Angela Ozue: Obsessive Love And It's Effects [OPINION]

Many people feel unable to control their hearts’ desires. They see themselves as having fallen prey to the intractable frenzy of the emotions inside of them – utterly helpless and completely confused

In a study conducted in 1999, Italian psychiatrist Dr. Donatella Marazziti found that people who proclaimed to have recently fallen in love had similar levels of serotonin in their blood as patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood, sleep and appetite, was found in higher quantities in individuals who did not have the anxiety disorder and had not recently fallen in love.

It is interesting to note the similarity in serotonin levels between those who were lovesick and those with an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. This finding emphasizes the obsessive component of romantic love, especially at its beginning. So when a couple finds it impossible to stop thinking about each other, is it really their fault? Or is this distracting, totally consuming aspect of love hardwired in all of us? Does love really take control of our minds, the way we sometimes say it does?

In 2000, scientists Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to track blood oxygen levels in the brain and made some very important discoveries concerning love.

This last finding – namely that the passion associated with early romantic love lowers activity in the part of the brain related to critical thought – may shed light on whether love really does make a person… well, stupid.

As writer Kelly Irvin says, “In many ways, the brain scan studies show that the maddening feelings of love are essentially a major mental-health crisis. The chemical storm of brain changes it causes are strikingly similar to drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Love really does make us crazy.”

And so it does. Passionate love, for the time that it lasts, makes us obsessive. It makes us less logical. It can turn us into neurotic addicts, waiting to get our fix so that we can function properly again. And yet it is a state many of us wait our whole lives to be in–because despite the pain that comes with it, it can also be very fulfilling.

Physical Effects
Without appropriate treatment, love addiction can have physical consequences. Love addicts may engage in risky sexual behaviors in an attempt to maintain the interest of an avoid-ant partner. These risky behaviors increase the risk for hepatitis and other diseases. Love addicts may also experience bouts of physical pain, as the same areas of the brain are responsible for romantic love and pain perception.

Subsequent studies have also shown an increased risk of dying from violence, alcohol problems, and auto accidents following the end of a relationship or loss of a loved one. Researchers theorize that the increased risk comes from behavioral changes that stem from the romantic loss or death. If someone starts drinking alcohol to cope with emotional pain, that person has a greater risk of alcohol-related complications.
Believe it or not, love addiction may also lead to weight gain or eating disorders. This is because a person who is addicted to love may develop unhealthy eating habits in an attempt to control their emotions. These habits may include self-starvation, binge eating, and purging after meals and snacks.

Psychological Effects
Sex addiction is another possible consequence of love addiction. When someone is constantly in search of a relationship, that person might use sex to attract new partners. Participating in sexual activity activates the pleasure centers of the brain, which increases the likelihood
of sex addiction

Social Effects
Love addiction affects family relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships. When family members and friends point out addictive behavior, the love addict may respond with aggression and hostility. The addict may avoid spending time with loved ones because he or she would rather spend time searching for a new romantic partner. Once a love addict finds a romantic partner, the new relationship is characterized by a period of highs and lows. The new relationship starts with infatuation, which makes it difficult for the love addict to see the romantic partner's flaws and shortcomings. Once this phase ends, the relationship is characterized by periods of melodrama and chaos. The partners may verbally or physically abuse one another. When the relationship ends, the love addict experiences reduced self-esteem and exhibits self-destructive behaviors.

Treatment and Rehabilitation
Love addiction is similar to sex addiction and drug addiction, so the treatment options are very similar. One of the most important aspects of treatment for love addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as "talk therapy," is when someone with dysfunctional emotions or behaviors talks with a therapist and tries to resolve problems. The therapist helps the love addict set treatment goals and develop a systematic plan for changing his or her behavior.
One of the most innovative methods of therapy is computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. This is when a therapist delivers cognitive behavioral therapy via the Internet or active voice response system. This is not a substitute for face-to-face treatment, but it can help patients take advantage of CBT if they lack transportation or live in an area that does not have any available therapists. This type of therapy costs less than traditional talk therapy, so it may be a suitable option for those who would like to supplement their CBT sessions.

Recovery Support
Interacting with the love addict in a kind and supportive manner is one of the most important roles of friends and family members. Therapy does not take place in a vacuum; this means that outside influences affect the success of rehabilitation for love addiction. When a love addict has support from loved ones, there is a better chance of recovery. Fortunately, there are several ways for loved ones to show their support.
Use nonjudgmental tones and words.
Offer to attend family therapy sessions.
Avoid making accusations.
Offer your support and empathy.
Avoid bringing up past behaviors.
Recovering from an addiction can take a toll on a person's physical and spiritual well-being. Preparing a hot meal or offering to help the recovering addict with household chores are just two examples of things you can do to show your support. Instead of pressuring the love addict to talk about the issue, offer to listen any time he or she wants to talk. If the person does not want to talk about the problem, do not insist on bringing it up in conversation.


  1. Obsession is something no one deserve to experience, but is also cool to get a taste of it


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