Back in the Middle Ages, we thought that the human body had some ethereal spirit in it that occupied the body until we died and then went off to some place in the sky. The Christians believed that it went to a place called heaven where the streets were paved with gold. The ancient Egyptians thought that it went to become a star in the sky, especially if you were a Pharaoh.
Some people still believe a version of those today. It’s called religion, and I respect all different religions, no matter how far-fetched they are. But more and more scientists are discovering that most everything that we experience takes place in the brain. All of our thoughts, emotions, and feelings are just the result of a neuro-chemical process.
We fall in love because of a chemical that’s released in the brain that gives us the same pleasurable feeling as the runner’s high and the cocaine addict’s rush. There has been evidence however, that we actually feel in other parts of the body. The body is a marvelous web of interconnected cells that all function in harmony to make us what we are.
When I was a teenager, my uncle and I used to have that old argument about heredity and environment. I was taking a psychology class in high school at the time and I came down strongly on the side of environment, while my uncle maintained that most of our actions are determined by our DNA. It turns out that my uncle was right.
More and more researchers are finding out that we really have very little free will. Most of how we behave is governed by the chemicals and electrical processes we have in our brains. According to Medical News Today:
“Researchers have found that the naturally-occurring hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin intensifies men’s memories of their mother’s affections during childhood. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”
The hormone has been proven to regulate attachments and social behavior in animals. Scientists wanted to find out if it had the same function in humans as well. When the test subjects received oxytocin, they remembered their mother’s affections as being kinder and more loving than those who didn’t receive the hormone.
The ability of mothers to bond with their newborn children greatly increases the chances that the offspring will survive.
Now that we have shown that most of our behavior is regulated by chemicals and hormones, let’s not forget that our surroundings play an important role as well. We all know that even if we are just bags of chemicals and water, our relationships are what makes us human after all.
“The research was funded by the Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation. Additional study sites include Columbia University and McGill University.”