Wired for love A neuroscientist's journey through romance, loss, and the essence of the human connection

Stephanie Cacioppo, 1974-

Book - 2022

"From the world's foremost neuroscientist of romantic love comes a personal story of connection and heartbreak that brings new understanding to an old truth: better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. At thirty-seven, Dr. Stephanie Cacioppo was content to be single. She was fulfilled by her work on the neuroscience of romantic love-how finding and growing with a partner literally reshapes our brains. That was, until she met the foremost neuroscientist of loneliness. A whirlwind romance led to marriage, to sharing an office at the University of Chicago. After seven years of being inseparable at work and home, she lost her beloved husband following a devastating battle with cancer. In Wired for Love, Dr. Stephani...e Cacioppo tells not just not just a science story, but also a love story. She shares revelatory insights into how we fall in love, and why; what makes love last; and how we process love lost-all grounded in cutting-edge findings in brain chemistry and behavioral science. Woven through it all is her moving personal story, from astonishment, to unbreakable bond, to grief and healing. Her experience and her work enrich each other, creating a singular blend of science and lyricism that's essential reading for anyone looking for connection"--

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Self-help publications
New York : Flatiron Books 2022
Main Author
Stephanie Cacioppo, 1974- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
212 pages ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 193-212).
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Social Brain
  • 2. A Single Mind
  • 3. Passion for Work
  • 4. The Love Machine
  • 5. Love in the Mirror
  • 6. When the Brain Swipes Right
  • 7. We'll Always Have Paris
  • 8. Better Together
  • 9. In Sickness and in Health
  • 10. The Test of Time
  • 11. Shipwrecked
  • 12. How to Love a Ghost
  • Epilogue: A Holistic Theory of Love
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Neuroscientist Cacioppo blends memoir and science in her debut, an enlightening testament to love's ability to enhance one's life. She begins with evolution, explaining how humankind's "primate ancestors" established pair bonds and positing that these precursors to romantic relationships created the necessary conditions for creating societies. She then breaks down the feel-good neurotransmitters generated by falling in love, and outlines a fascinating experiment she conducted at Dartmouth College called the "Love Machine," which was intended to help a person decide between two potential suitors by measuring brain function in response to subliminal messaging. Among the findings was that people performed better on tests after seeing the name of the person they "undoubtedly loved." Cacioppo also recounts her own love story: despite feeling like she'd "be alone forever," she fell in love with fellow social neuroscientist John Cacioppo in 2011. They married shortly thereafter; four years later, John was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and, in 2018, died, an experience she uses to explore the healing power of partnership: People "literally feel less pain when their significant other is touching them or even just in the same room. That's why I knew I could never leave John's side." Readers will be both fascinated and moved. (Apr.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A leading neuroscientist analyzes the "power of love"--"why it evolved, how it functions, how it can be harnessed to strengthen our bodies and open our minds." From plunging marriage rates to the challenges of pandemic dating, finding a fulfilling romantic relationship is fraught with challenges. According to recent data, half of single adults in the U.S. are not even on the dating market. Yet, as Cacioppo convincingly argues, "a healthy love life is as necessary to a person's well-being as nutritious food, exercise, or clean water…we cannot realize our full potential as human beings without it." In this book, a hybrid of memoir and popular science, she tells her own story of love and heartbreak and examines the scientific data from fields including neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, and economics. As one of the first researchers to use the tools of neuroscience to study love, the author has made numerous fascinating and unexpected discoveries despite skepticism from others in her field. She shows that not only does love make people feel good by triggering a cascade of neurotransmitters and chemicals; social interaction actually shapes the brain, improving cognitive function. On the flip side, loneliness is considered a risk factor for poor health that some scientists consider as serious as smoking. In engaging and clear prose, Cacioppo explains how the tangible effect of positive, loving feelings is evident in various situations: recovering from a stroke, thinking quickly, and even retaining a will to survive. Equally intriguing is the author's discovery that love activates 12 regions of the brain, playing a more complex role than anyone had previously theorized. Each chapter builds on the last, and Cacioppo's writing becomes more intimate as her life story stitches closer to her research. Her conclusion is enchanting and uplifting: Love leads us "to be true to ourselves, to reveal who we are." A beautiful testament to romantic love, scientific passion, and the endless possibility of connection. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.