Sci + Society,

#095: The Medicalization Of Love

September 25, 2015

What is Love? A loaded question with the potential to lead us down multiple rabbit holes (and, if you grew up in the 90s, evoke memories of the Haddaway song). In episode #95, Jesse welcomes Brian Earp on board for a thought-provoking conversation about the possibilities and ethics of making biochemical tweaks to this most celebrated of human emotions. With a topic like “manipulating love,” the discussion moves between the realms of neuroscience, psychology and transhumanist philosophy.

Have you ever been fascinated by the techno-gadgetry behind night-vision equipment? If your answer is yes, you’ll want to stick around for the Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick. Fair warning – if you’re squeamish about eyeballs, this portion might get a little freaky.

“Gabriel Licina, the human guinea-pig mentioned in the Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick”

PS: When the haze of love and hormones clears, don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter — and keep your neurons buzzing with our latest news.

Show Notes
  • 00:00:32

    Love is all you need - or is it?

  • 00:01:16

    This Week In Neuroscience: An update on sonogenetics.

  • 00:02:58

    The audience interaction section with a special shout out to our Aussie listeners.

  • 00:05:36

    Jesse introduces Brian Earp.

  • 00:07:11

    A quick background on the neuro-enhancement of love.

  • 00:08:22

    Psycho-biological effects of love.

  • 00:09:08

    The role of oxytocin - animal experiments.

  • 00:11:08

    Human studies.

  • 00:12:54

    Interactions between lust, attraction and attachment.

  • 00:15:28

    Arguments against medicalization of love.

  • 00:16:33

    An insight into female Viagra.

  • 00:19:08

    Social perceptions of romantic relationships.

  • 00:22:29

    Arranged vs love marriage.

  • 00:25:35

    Rekindling the romance - then and now.

  • 00:30:51

    Idiosyncrasies of human interactions.

  • 00:32:58

    Looking ahead at the future.

  • 00:37:53

    Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick: Implanting night-vision.


  1. Brian Earp says:

    Thanks for the great interview! Was a lot of fun …

  2. Vivikah says:

    The picture of Gabriel Licina is not a good representative of someone using your products I would trust. He looks scary. VN

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      I agree. (Did you listen to the episode and hear about what he did?) 🙂

  3. ben says:

    I became a Brian Earp follower from his (gutsy) critique to Sam Harris regarding whether or not science can some day draw conclusions about morality. BTW, he used to have several great audio interviews on love ethics, but they seem to have been mostly removed from his Oxford bio page.

    Would have liked to have heard his thoughts on some of the research suggesting women’s sexual desire and their physical arousal seem to be independent. For example, while TMS or Addyi may result in physical arousal, the sex drive doesn’t necessarily follow. There was a good NPR episode that talks about this disconnect

    Also, Comedian Aziz Ansari has a great book (‘Modern Romance’) that talks about how dating/marriage has changed from a partnership mostly determined by the options that were in close proximity, to endlessly looking for romantic love somewhere in the world.

    Not sure I’d do the IR implant, but it will be interesting to see how the DIY implantable devices community (‘Grinders’) will shape the future. If you ever have a biohacker guest, Tim Cannon (see the Remarkably Human Podcast), Jon Oxer (The Amp-Hour), or Kevin Warwick (Becoming Superhuman) might be good options!

    1. ben says:

      BTW, saw a great video from philosopher Alain De Botton (School of Life fame), on Love and Romanticism, where he sees love as the practice one does regardless of who’s on the other side (see 1h1m14s and 34m). Slavoj Zizek also has a bunch of great lectures, there’s usually quite a bit of repeated material.. his hour long talk at Google is one of my favorites.

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