Brain Pickings

Limbic Revision: How Love Rewires the Brain


On the capacity for transformation and its prerequisite of letting go.

Last weekend, at a dear friend’s wedding, the groom’s sister read an excerpt from one of my favorite books, A General Theory of Love (public library), which you might recall from pickings past. The passage framed beautifully the remarkable union we had gathered to witness, but also speaks powerfully to love’s greatest, most universal blessing:

In a relationship, one mind revises the other; one heart changes its partner. This astounding legacy of our combined status as mammals and neural beings is limbic revision: the power to remodel the emotional parts of the people we love, as our Attractors [coteries of ingrained information patterns] activate certain limbic pathways, and the brain’s inexorable memory mechanism reinforces them.

Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.

The bride’s vows reinforced and complemented this message with the kind of succinct eloquence that sends shivers of Truth down your spine, then makes your heart explode with warmth:

Real, honest, complete love requires letting go.

A General Theory of Love is one of 5 favorite books on the psychology of love and the kind of read you keep coming back to again and again, finding a new layer of insight into a different stage or aspect of your life each time.

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