Do we love with our hearts or with our brains?
Does love come from the heart as we commonly believe? In 450 years BC, Hippocrates proposed that “Emotions emanate from the brain.” Over the past few centuries, we noted that when we see the beloved, our hearts beat faster and stronger. It must be that our hearts have recognized the beloved and reacted to him. Therefore, our love resides in the heart. The heart is the love center in the body.
The symbol of the heart became the symbol for love. But is this still true, based on what we know today, with all the advancements in understanding our body? No, this is not true. The heart has nothing to do with love. The heart is just a strong muscle that functions to pump blood all over the body. The heart has nerves that mainly sense pain, and changes in rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. We have an old brain or reptilian brain responsible for survival. We have an intermediate (limbic) brain responsible for emotions and love. We have a new (neocortex) brain responsible for conscious decisions and at will actions. Love is perceived by the intermediate (limbic) brain. When we see the beloved, the intermediate (limbic) brain releases chemicals that causes the heart to beat faster and stronger.
The heart is the servant of the master, the brain. So, Hippocrates was right 2,500 years ago: we now say “Emotions emanate from the brain.” Love comes from the brain and can manifest itself in the heart. We should be saying “I love you from the center of my brain” and not “I love you from the bottom of my heart”. Let’s try to be “modern” with our understanding of love!
Fred Nour, M.D.