Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 4

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

Addicted to Grief

The emotional responses to a thorny breakup can resemble the responses to the death of a loved one. You feel weighed down by the memories, the longing, the wistful tears, the chest pain and the aching throughout the whole body. Or you are so outraged that you are lucky not to have a semi-automatic weapon. Or you are ready to go on a secret mission aimed at reversing the terrible outcome. It’s no coincidence that breakups can resemble the death of a loved one. When a loved one dies, you grieve. But death is not the only trigger of grief. Grief can occur after any kind of loss: the loss of a job, a limb, a breast, a home, a relationship.

According to the Kübler-Ross model of grief, also known as “The Five Stages of Grief,” first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book,”On Death and Dying,” grief involves five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. After the loss of a loved one, you may first deny that the person is gone, simply refuse to believe it. Once the truth dawns on you, you may feel outraged and attempt to convince the beloved to come back or beg God or the universe’s spirits to reverse their decision. Once you realize things are not going to change, sadness sets in. Over time you may finally accept what happened. These stages need not occur in this order, and each stage may occur several times. The different emotions can also overlap. You may be angry and in a bargaining mode at the same time, or deny what happened and still feel sad. Philosopher Shelley Tremain captured the complexity of grief well when she wrote on her Facebook site, “Today  would have been my father’s eighty-first birthday. Some days, I think time is on my side, that it’s getting easier to live with losing him. Then, it happens. Sometimes, it’s a figure of speech he was fond of, at other times, I am shaving him, or I look in the mirror and see the features of my face that are his, or we are sitting together holding hands. Just sitting there.”

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to let go of grief. When you continue to grieve a loss for a very long time, your condition is called “complicated (or pathological) grief.” The love story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is a heartbreakingly beautiful illustration of complicated grief. Alexandrina Victoria was eighteen when she became Queen of England. Her Uncle, King William IV, had no surviving legitimate children. So Victoria became his heir when he died in 1837. When Prince Albert, her first cousin, visited London in 1839, Victoria immediately fell in love with him. Initially Albert had doubts about the relationship, but he eventually fell in love with her too. The couple got married in February 1840. During the next eighteen years Queen Victoria gave birth to nine children. She loved Albert deeply. Albert was not only a dutiful husband and the father of Victoria’s children, he was also Victoria’s political and diplomatic advisor. For twenty-one years they lived happily together. But the bliss came crashing to a halt when Prince Albert died of typhoid at Windsor on December 14, 1861.

Albert’s death completely destroyed Victoria emotionally. She was overwhelmed by grief and refused to show her face in public for the next three years. People began to question her competence, and many attempted to assassinate her. Victoria finally appeared in public but she refused to wear anything but black and mourned her Prince Albert until her own death in 1901. Victoria’s forty-year-long state of mourning earned her the nickname “The Widow of Windsor.” She never again became the happy and cheerful woman she had been when Albert was alive. In preparation for her own death she asked for two items to be in her coffin: one of Albert’s dressing gowns and a lock of his hair.

Complicated grief is so severe that psychiatrists now consider it for inclusion in the psychiatric manual for diagnosing mental disorders. If you have complicated grief, you have been grieving for six months or more. You furthermore satisfy at least five of the following criteria:

  1. You have obsessive thoughts about aspects of the lost relationship or the person you were with.
  2. You spend a significant amount of time every day or almost every day, thinking about your lost relationship or the person you were with.
  3. You have intense emotional pain, sorrow, pangs, or yearnings related to the lost relationship.
  4. You avoid reminders of the loss, because you know that reminders will cause you pain or make you feel uncomfortable.
  5. You have problems accepting the loss of the relationship.
  6. You have frequent dreams that relate to your lost relationship.
  7. You frequently suffer from deep sadness, depression, or anxiety because of the loss.
  8. You are angry or feel a deep sense of injustice in relation to the lost relationship.
  9. You have difficulties trusting others since the relationship ended.
  10. The loss of the relationship makes it difficult for you to find pleasure in social and routine activities.
  11. Your symptoms make it difficult for you to function optimally on your job, as a parent or in a new relationship.

Complicated grief is emotionally and chemically similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, some psychiatrists argue that there is no need to include complicated grief as a separate psychological condition. They are variations on the very same disorder, they say. Posttraumatic stress disorder can occur as the result of any traumatic event. The most common traumatic events discussed in the literature on posttraumatic stress are events of war, terrorist attacks, brutal physical and sexual assaults, and traffic accidents. It is not commonly noted that unexpected breakups and other traumatic relationship events can also lead to posttraumatic stress.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a condition in which you keep reliving the traumatic event— for example, the breakup—avoiding situations that are similar to the one that led to the trauma. You furthermore have difficulties sleeping, you feel angry, you have difficulties focusing, and you suffer from anxiety. To be a clinical case of posttraumatic stress disorder, the symptoms must last more than a month and lead to difficulties functioning socially, on the job, or in other areas of life. Posttraumatic stress disorder is more likely to occur if the adrenaline surge at the time of the event was very intense.

A study published in the May 2008 issue of Neuroimage suggests that complicated grief sometimes occurs because a normal grieving process turns into an addiction. Led by neuroscientist Mary-Frances O’Connor, the team looked at images of the brains of people who satisfied the criteria for complicated grief and people who weren’t grieving and found significantly more activity in the nucleus accumbens of the people with complicated grief. Activity in the nucleus accumbens is associated with addiction.

It may seem strange that you could actually become addicted to emotional pain and a longing for a person who is no longer with you. The researchers suggest that your yearning and sadness may give you some type of pleasure or satisfaction.

Perhaps the turmoil of emotions does really provide some kind of gratification. Perhaps this emotional overflow is addictive. But it is also possible that the increased activity in the nucleus accumbens signifies increased dopamine levels of the sort found in certain anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The classical case of this disorder is one in which the afflicted is obsessed with thoughts of disease and germs and compulsively washes his or her hands after being near other people or anything that could possibly carry microbes. This disorder is associated with low levels of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin and fluctuating levels of the motivator chemical dopamine. The low levels of serotonin cause anxiety that involves obsessive, jazzy thinking and the dopamine “reward” motivates the afflicted person to behave in compulsive ways.

As people ruminate obsessively over the events leading up to the loss in complicated grief, the condition may turn out to be similar in this respect to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Low levels of serotonin may trigger obsessive thinking, crippling anxiety, and a visceral yearning for the absent person or the irretrievable relationship. The dopamine response elicited by this kind of obsessive thinking and longing may motivate the grief-stricken person to engage in begging and bargaining and it could also ignite anger fits and a ferocious denial of the loss of the relationship.

 

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9 Brutally Honest Reasons Why You Never Heard From That Guy Again

These big mistakes had him searching for the nearest exit.

Have you ever gone out on a date with a man you really liked? You were certain you both clicked.

Things went well, and you went home hoping for him to call you for a second date… But he just kind of disappeared after that. Or maybe he trailed off, contacted you a few more times, then stopped.

When men disappear, it’s no accident.

What you don’t realize is that you may be putting out unconscious signals that are sending him running for the hills.

If you can’t seem to ever get a guy to call you again after you go on a date, it’s time to look at what might be happening under the surface you don’t know about.

Here are 9 brutal reasons why you never hear from guys again after a date.

1. He wasn’t that invested in you in the first place.

Sometimes, men will spend time with a woman with no real intention of ever having a long-term relationship with her. In those cases, when your time is up, it’s up. The relationship was never going anywhere anyway, and you’re better off without him.

It’s not always necessarily because of how you are, what you said, or what you did. It’s just where his head is at — or is not at, more importantly.

2. You hinted that you’re a baby ticking time bomb.

Any sniff of baby fever in the “get to know you” stages, and he’s out. Men usually take a bit longer than women to emotionally invest themselves, and if you lay all that baby stuff on them too soon, you can fall into the mistake of putting too much pressure on the relationship. It’ll freak him out.

When a man decides to go out with you, it’s because he’s thinking about how you will make his life better and more fun initially. A baby-obsessed woman can scare the even most loyal man away.

3. You mentioned that you want to get married — soon.

This is a bit like the baby ticking time bomb and just as lethal. If a man hears about what sort of flowers you want at your wedding day or who might get an invitation before he’s emotionally invested, he’ll run for cover.

Avoid this one like the plague, and save the wedding conversations for a later date. Because if he’s a commitment-phobe, this is sure to get rid of him.

4. You acted like one of the guys.

Men love women because of what women can offer that a man does not possess himself. Women who play games, act like they don’t need him, or have the “I can do it myself” mentality sometimes come across masculine in their behavior.

Acting this way is unattractive to men and will plummet his attraction to you to below zero.

5. You emasculated him.

Men want a woman who makes him feel good about himself. He wants a woman who brings out the best version of him. If you do the opposite, then you’re heading in the wrong direction.

Men like to feel like the man in the relationship. They need to feel needed. They need to feel wanted and desired by you.

So, pay attention to how you treat him or act around him. Is your attitude and behavior making him feel good?

Men like to do nice things for you, so let him — even if you feel like you could do it all by yourself. It’s food for the soul to a man when he can provide, protect, and take care of you.

6. You did all the work.

Men aren’t attracted to a woman who asks him out, calls him, texts him, and then dictates the terms of the relationship to make sure he won’t run away.

He’ll tolerate it, but he probably isn’t as invested in the outcome as you are.

7. Dating you was too much like hard work.

Being hard and independent can sometimes be a turn-off to men. How can he fit in when you’re always too busy and too hard to accept love, kindness, and adoration?

If you feel your hard side is letting you down, maybe it’s time to lighten up and let him in.

8. He has his own issues.

Understand that sometimes men disappear because of their own stuff. Maybe he just got out of a relationship and is getting back on his feet, or love burned him in the past and he can’t face another relationship right now.

Maybe his ex was controlling in his last relationship, and now he just wants to enjoy his freedom. This is the most dangerous guy to lurk with.

Although these men can come across as a “good guy with potential,” there’s a catch: He’s not in the right space to give you what you need. You must let him go if he’s not stepping up as the kind of boyfriend you need.

9. Your “crazy chick” side came out.

You’re confident until you get him, then all your insecurities and self-doubt come out to play. You get jealous, start fights, or create a drama.

You’ll do anything to sabotage that relationship, and the more you love him and the better he treats you, the worse it gets. Remember, this behavior is getting you nowhere. Keep the crazy chick at bay.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly