A Life Based on Passion
Helen E. Fisher, Ph.D. biological anthropologist, is a Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, and a Member of the Center For Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She has written six books on the evolution, biology, and psychology of human sexuality, monogamy, adultery and divorce, gender differences in the brain, the neural chemistry of romantic love and attachment, human biologically-based personality styles, why we fall in love with one person rather than another, hooking up, friends with benefits, living together and other current trends, and the future of relationships — what she calls: slow love.
Question: What has been the strangest reaction from somebody who finds out what you do for a living?
Helen Fisher: I’ll never forget the moment, and it’s only happened a few times, and it was a very fancy room full of people with black tie, not that they’re any smarter, but I thought they might be a little bit more educated. And it was a woman, and I don’t know how we got on to what I did, and I started talking about love and the brain. And she looked at me and said, “Why would you want to know?”
I couldn’t understand it at first because I’m so curious about it, and I finally began to realize she felt that knowing more about romantic love would spoil it and she wanted to keep it in the supernatural. And my real response to that is, you know, I do know a good deal about romantic love, but you know, you can know every single ingredient in a piece of chocolate cake and then sit down and eat that cake and feel that rush of joy in the same way that you can know everything there is, or a great deal about romantic love and still feel that intense passion just the way anybody else does. But what it’s really done for me is dramatically expanded my sense of unity I think with all humanity.
I will look in a museum at a little bracelet that somebody dug up from 20,000 years ago and I think somebody gave that bracelet to somebody, somebody wore it. Somebody was in love. Poetry from around the world. I mean, I look at a baby carriage now and I say, “Oh boy, are you in for something.” But there’s continuity when you begin to study romantic love. You feel the deep passion of just about everybody on earth.
Recorded on January 6, 2010
Helen Fisher on what it’s like to spend your career studying love.
A few traditions in the Roman Catholic Church can be traced back to pagan cults, rites, and deities.
- The Catholic rite of Holy Communion parallels pre-Christian Greco-Roman and Egyptian rituals that involved eating the body and blood of a god.
- A number of Catholic holidays and myths, such as Christmas, Easter, and Mardi Gras, graph onto the timeline of pre-Christian fertility festivals.
- The Catholic practice of praying to saints has been called "de-facto idolatry" and even a relic of goddess worship.
A pragmatic approach to fixing an imbalanced system.
- Intentional or not, certain inequalities are inherent in a digital economy that is structured and controlled by a few corporations that don't represent the interests or the demographics of the majority.
- While concern and anger are valid reactions to these inequalities, UCLA professor Ramesh Srinivasan also sees it as an opportunity to take action.
- Srinivasan says that the digital economy can be reshaped to benefit the 99 percent if we protect laborers in the gig economy, get independent journalists involved with the design of algorithmic news systems, support small businesses, and find ways that groups that have been historically discriminated against can be a part of these solutions.