“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind” says Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, perhaps explaining the strange behaviour of those in love.
Love has long been linked to madness, and it’s easy to see why. People in love tend to hold unlikely and overly positive beliefs about their lovers, show signs of mania, obsessional thinking and experience catastrophic lows when things go wrong.
In a new book, psychologist Frank Tallis argues that love and lovesickness should be considered more seriously by psychologists and neuroscientists, and that lovesickness can trigger identifiable symptoms of mental illness in some people.
In fact, Dr Tallis is continuing a long tradition of medical enquiry into lovesickness which has been around since the Ancient Greeks (as the history of erotomania shows) although Jacques Ferrand’s 1623 A Treatise on Lovesickness probably stands as one of the greatest works in this area (summary, amazon entry with excerpts).
To say that “The course of true love never did run smooth” would be an understatement though, especially if you’re investigating love and attraction.
Research has shown that, for some, making love causes amnesia. Luckily though, people are disproportionately more likely to marry others whose names resemble their own, perhaps making the post-coital name guessing a little easier. It seems Cupid has a sense of humour if nothing else.