Is there a pill for love? What about an anti-love drug, to help you get over your ex? This book argues that certain psychoactive substances, including MDMA—the active ingredient in Ecstasy—might help ordinary couples work through relationship difficulties and strengthen their connection. Others may help sever emotional ties during a breakup, with transformative implications for how we think about love. Oxford ethicists Julian Savulescu and Brian D. Earp build a case for conducting research into "love drugs" and "anti-love drugs" and explore their ethical implications for individuals and society. Why are we still in the dark about the effects of common medications on romantic partnerships? How can we overhaul scientific research norms to put interpersonal factors front and center? Biochemical interventions into love and relationships are not some far-off speculation. Our most intimate connections are already being influenced by drugs we ingest for other purposes. Controlled studies are already underway to see whether artificial brain chemicals might enhance couples' therapy. And conservative religious groups are already experimenting with certain medications to quash romantic desires—and even the urge to masturbate—among children and vulnerable sexual minorities. Simply put, the horse has bolted. Where it runs is up to us. Love is the Drug arms readers with the latest scientific knowledge as well as a set of ethical tools that you can use to decide for yourself if these sorts of medications should be a part of our society. Or whether a chemical romance might be right for you.
feelings of euphoria it can induce—was
being used as an aid in couplestherapy by professional counselors.
Writing in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 1998, psychiatrists
George Greer and Requa Tolbert described a method of conducting MDMA-enhanced therapeutic sessions based on their experience
with roughly eighty clients between 1980 and 1985. After careful
prescreening and obtaining informed consent, Greer and Tolbert
met with the clients in their homes, believing that a more personal
setting would be best for facilitating trust and comfort.
“We never recommended
One of the most hyped possibilities for chemically strengthening love and attachment is the hormone oxytocin. This chapter surveys the evidence on oxytocin-enhanced relationships and identifies a number of gaps in the literature that would need to be filled before oxytocin could be used as a love drug. If stronger evidence comes out supporting real-world effectiveness of oxytocin in a relationship context, clear guidelines would need to be put in place to ensure that it was used responsibly and ethically. Building on this insight, the chapter concludes with an outline of key ethical constraints that should apply to any drug-assisted mode of couples therapy.
more fully into account?
The time to think through such questions is now. Biochemical
interventions into love and relationships are not some far-off speculation. Our most intimate connections are already being influenced by
drugs we ingest for other purposes. Controlled studies are already
underway to see whether artificial brain chemicals might enhance
the positive effects of couplestherapy. And as later chapters will
explore, fundamentalist religious groups are already experimenting
with certain medications to quash romantic desires—even the urge
Although caseworkers did see clients individually, particularly in the initial consultation or if a partner was reluctant to attend, emphasis on the couple as a single analytical unit prioritised involving both parties in addressing marital problems. The published, anonymised narratives of marital tensions presented by members of the Bureau were more detailed and more vivid than those provided by the National Marriage Guidance Council, but similarly revealed the web of norms and assumptions that structured couplestherapy as well as the marital problems that it was