A General Theory of Love Symmetrical facial features, lustrous hair, and abs you can bounce a quarter on notwithstanding, there's more to amour than sexual attraction. At least that's the…
Book Review

A General Theory of Love

A General Theory of Love

THE 'LOVE' DOCTORS (l-r) Fari Amini, M.D.; Thomas Lewis, M.D.; Richard Lannon, M

Details Writers: Fari Amini, Thomas Lewis

Symmetrical facial features, lustrous hair, and abs you can bounce a quarter on notwithstanding, there's more to amour than sexual attraction. At least that's the supposition put forth in A General Theory of Love. Written by the psychiatrists Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon, this is a purely biological examination of love. But rather than regurgitating the now-overdone studies of waist-to-hip ratios and promiscuous peacocks, the good doctors explain not the outward indicators of physical attraction but the less-explored ''biological'' development of emotional bonds.

The heart of their theory is this: People are not closed, self-contained creatures that interact with other similarly isolated beings; instead their bodily functions are interconnected and physically altered by their relationships with others. That is why, they contend, if one half of a couple leaves on a trip, the partner left behind may suffer a cold that would have been staved off had the pair (and their immune systems) been together. As the authors point out: ''Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.''

In elegant prose that keeps the dry scientific jargon to a blessed minimum, they argue why certain widely held societal beliefs (career success equals happiness; being ''in love'' means the ''sparks'' never disappear) clash with biological reality -- and why we need a culture attuned to the ways of the heart.

Originally posted Feb 09, 2000
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