Why Love Matters – How affection shapes our brain, affects our heart. Changes our behaviour.

Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 14 February 2016.
By John Abbate.


There are many forms of love and many kinds of relationship. “Our institutions can become so fixed and fixated that we start calling one form of relationship normal and the other form of relationship abnormal,” said Dr Macnab.

Michael Eigen said, “Let us hope another’s words will balance our own, and that we draw each other out, to take each other to new places.”

“That’s love,” said Dr Macnab.

According to a recent journal article, love shapes the brain, affects the heart, changes our behaviour. When love is switched off, the brain shrinks.

“Human beings search for love,” said Dr Macnab. But love has conditions, and it doesn’t last forever. Love as it was can be “lost beneath obligation, necessity and need.”

“We all need resilience,” said Dr Macnab, “because one thing is certain: life includes adversity.” Life comes with its crucifixions and its resurrections. “Love dies, but sometimes it comes back to life again.” Love sometimes calls for resilience: “the ability to persevere, to adapt when things go awry.”

What are the comforts that you conceal, that you no longer acknowledge or embrace? Dr Macnab speaks of three unconscious comforts, perhaps long buried in some of us, that need to be brought back to the surface. Life and love depend on them:

  1. Good memories to soften and heal, to counter the bad memories that keep alive past resentments, troubles and guilt.

  1. A good, healing inner-presence. Psychology sometimes speaks of an internalised, good love-object. It is the life-transforming, positive presence of everything that we call “love”. “You can call it God if you like,” said Dr Macnab. “The Bible says they are one and the same, when they are both at their best.”

  1. Self-love. Our hostility toward others can begin to undermine our own goodness, our own sense of a good self. Beware the outward hostility that becomes inwardly directed.


Watch Dr Macnab’s complete address: https://youtu.be/9kukopAxzkc

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