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Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

Ch a pter 9 ANTI - LOVE DRUGS a cure for love, is almost as old as love itself. References crop up in the writings of Lucretius, Ovid, Shakespeare, and many others and are tightly linked to the idea that love, desire, and especially obsessive infatuation can sometimes be like a serious illness: bad for your physical and mental health and in some cases destructive to your overall well-being. The playwright George Bernard Shaw called romantic love one of “the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions” and even mocked the idea that

in Love is the Drug
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The Chemical Future of Our Relationships

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.

Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

Ch a pter 5 GOOD - ENOUGH M ARRIAGES are already here, partly in the form of understudied side effects of widely used prescription medications. More potent love drugs are on the horizon. We don’t want to be caught flat-footed: equipped with the power to biochemically intervene in relationships, but not knowing if, when, or how to intervene. So one of the first things to get clear about is this: how do you decide whether a given relationship is worth preserving—with or without the use of a drug—or whether it would be better, all things considered, for it to end

in Love is the Drug
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Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

learn how it works, to understand its effects, both good and bad, and to clarify the conditions for individuals, relationships, and society under which it brings more benefit than harm. Something like this view is catching on. People are starting to realize that not all drugs are “bad” and that you don’t necessarily need to have a disease or disorder for a chemical substance to help improve your life. In this book, we explore whether drugs can ethically be used to enhance that aspect of our lives we often care about the most: our romantic relationships. Love, drugs

in Love is the Drug
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Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

molecule.” And yes, some have even called it a “love drug” (no alliteration there, but closer to our hearts). On Amazon you can buy a nasal spray called OxyLuv. The spray, which purports to improve your sex life while decreasing your anxiety, has earned three out of five stars for satisfaction—across an array of customer experiences. On the one hand, a Brian Williams (not, we presume, the erstwhile host of NBC Nightly News) claimed that the spray made him more “willing to engage,” but only when he poured it into his morning coffee. On the other hand, a self

in Love is the Drug
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Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

C h a p t e r 11 AVOIDIN G DISA STER that love drugs and anti-love drugs are not some made-up possibility for the future: biotechnologies are currently available that can have an enhancing or degrading effect on the neurochemical bonds that underlie romantic love, and these could plausibly be used to help maintain some good relationships and end some bad ones. Drugs and other technologies with even more powerful effects on relationships will likely continue to be developed, and we have suggested that the time is now to set up an ethical framework for handling

in Love is the Drug
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Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

prospect whatsoever of having their feelings returned, 142    C H A P T E R 1 0 and who are therefore descending into utter despair (we have actually received e-mails from people in this situation, asking how they can get an anti-love drug); individuals who fall unwillingly (yet irresistibly) for someone other than their monogamous partner; individuals who have uncontrollable, and unwanted, sexual desire for young children. And so on. Although the case of pedophiles who hate their own desires may not elicit the kind of sympathy typically felt for victims of

in Love is the Drug
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Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

intervention. In other words, the prospect of real-life love drugs (and anti-love drugs) is now upon us. ♥ ♥ ♥ It is difficult to talk about love—romantic love, anyway, which is the kind we have in mind for this book—without immediately stumbling into clichés. Love is discussed so much that it can seem as though there is nothing new to say about it. Even when it is groan-inducing, being neck-deep in love can be one of the best experiences of life, and being bereft of love can be one of the worst. This is why love, the hope of love, or the loss of love tends to inspire

in Love is the Drug
Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

the very real and disruptive effects of passionate love. Or maybe they’re just handy plot devices. Our interest here, though, is in real-life neurotechnologies that act on the brain’s lust, attraction, and attachment systems, whether to strengthen a good relationship or help end a bad one. Although we have been referring to these interventions as love drugs and antilove drugs for convenience, these neurotechnologies are altogether different from magical love potions. For one thing, love drugs (as we have been using that term) are real; for another, they cannot

in Love is the Drug
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Brian D. Earp and Julian Savulescu

C h a p t e r 12 CHOOSIN G LOVE you are probably at least open to the idea of love drugs playing a role in our society. But you might also worry that something special about love would be lost in the process. Part of the magic of love, it seems, is precisely that it is so mysterious—that it can take us over completely, as though by a force outside ourselves. Do we really want to put it under a microscope, much less douse it with a bunch of chemicals from a lab? As Wordsworth wrote in the “The Tables Turned,” “Our meddling intellect / Mis-shapes the beauteous

in Love is the Drug