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Psycho Drama as a Love Story

In Crazy Little Thing, the author shines a light on the dark side of romance.

Liz Langley reveals how love drives some people nuts.

Liz Langley reveals how love drives some people nuts.

Photo By Norma Lopez Molina

Ever wonder why some people, like former astronaut Lisa Nowak, for example, go off the deep end in the name of love? “Every day you read about a crazy crime someone has committed over a relationship,” says Liz Langley, an Orlando author who explores the underlying causes behind extreme acts of devotion in her new book, Crazy Little Thing: Why Love and Sex Drive Us Mad.

One culprit, as her interviews with therapists, biologists, psychologists and anthropologists revealed, is dopamine, the hormone responsible for creating pleasure. “But it also creates craving and addiction,” says Langley after learning that the same brain areas activated in cocaine and nicotine addiction are also galvanized by romantic rejection. “It explains why it’s often so hard to let go and why someone on the bad side of love needs compassion and engagement—not just wine and tide-over sex—to help them move along.”

Another startling fact: It takes just a half-second to fall in love. “It’s like taking a drug you didn’t ask for,” says Langley. “All of a sudden, you’re smitten.” Smitten enough to make even a seemingly smart person go a little cuckoo. As illustrated with several real-life stories in her book, Langley discovers that our reactions to rejection are highly primal, and when the right cocktail of hormones and chemicals mix, the resulting behavior can be downright destructive.

“These were really fascinating stories, but also very sad,” she stresses. “Some were actually funny and even uplifting.” Her advice: Seek support when you’re hurting. “We don’t have rehab for love, and maybe we should. People obviously need more support than they’re getting.”

 

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