The Chemistry Between Us
Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction
"Provocative and entertaining. Popular science writing at its best!"
Dan Rodricks, Batlimore Sun columnist, WYPR radio host
Listen to the NPR radio interview
Drawing on real stories as well as research, the authors take the reader on a fascinating journey through strip clubs, Romanian orphanages and labs where rodents are regularly stimulated with lubed paintbrushes. These myriad adventures provide a great context for the science...Not overly concerned with political correctness, Young and Alexander even go so far as to extend these hypotheses to touch on modern issues like marriage, equality and single mothers.
...One wild and entertaining ride. The prose in The Chemistry Between Us is lively and fun – and provides a fresh and unapologetically pointed analysis on what understanding the neurobiological correlates of love may mean for both our relationships and our culture.
Kayt Sukel, New Scientist
Why do we drunk-dial our exes? Why do strippers make more money when they are ovulating? Why do fools fall in love? These are some of the questions explored by Young (Psychiatry/Emory Univ.) and Alexander (America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction, 2008)... The authors argue that the causes are related to the potent, sometimes irresistible, chemical cocktails our bodies produce. In interviews with scientists of all stripes (psychiatrists, neuroscientists, researchers), Young and Alexander examine their ideas and how they pertain to us, often illuminating their explanations with funny, and sometimes raunchy, anecdotes...
The book is sure to hook even casual science readers with its subject, because, as Young and Alexander point out, “the combination of erotic desire and the love it leads to may be the most powerful force on earth.”
An entertaining overview of the science of physical attraction.
Combine a first-class neuroscientist like Young, director of Emory University’s Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, and an award-winning science journalist like Alexander, and the result is likely to be an engaging book about cutting edge science. They do a wonderful job of mixing and matching human studies with those of other animals to explain how chemicals influence and, at times, control behavior associated with sex, love, and longing....
"Dr. Young is one of the science world's most respected authorities on the chemistry underlying the most complicated and beloved interactions of our species. The insight and candor he and Mr. Alexander provide in this simultaneously entertaining and compelling book will impress both novice and scientific aficionado alike. What an intellectually and emotionally satisfying exploration!"
Dr. Mayim Bialik, Ph.D, CLEC
Actress on CBS' The Big Bang Theory
Author of Beyond The Sling: How to Raise Confident Loving Children the Attachment
"Nothing fascinates us more than why we fall in love and what makes us choose that particular person. The Chemistry Between Us sheds light on just this mysterious phenomena with a thorough look at the neuroscience and psychology of the process. Whether you have a desire for better intellectual understanding or a personal curiosity as to why you or your partner do what you do, this book is a super enjoyable class in love, sex and all its dark mysteries. A fascinating and stimulating read!"
Gail Saltz M.D.
NBC Today Show contributor and
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry The New York
"This lively book by a great neuroscientist and a savvy science writer is the first popular account to tie together what we have learned about the chemistry of sex, love, and family bonds. Progress in this field has been nothing short of breath-taking, and Larry Young is recognized as its leading pioneer. The way our brains react when boy meets girl determines the stability of marriage and the future of the human family."
Frans de Waal
Author of The Age of Empathy
"If you've ever been curious — and let's face it, we all have — about the intricate dance of biology and behavior that both brings men and women together and pushes them apart, then The Chemistry Between Us is the book for you. Authors Larry Young and Brian Alexander explore questions as gentle as parenting and as edgy as sexual addiction with consistent style, humor, and insight. The result is a story that's fun, fascinating and, finally, insightful."
Pulitzer Prize winner, author of Sex on the Brain, Love at Goon Park, and
The Poisoner's Handbook
"Authors Larry Young and Brian Alexander explore questions as gentle as parenting and as edgy as sexual addiction with consistent style, humor, and insight. The result is a story that's fun, fascinating and, finally, insightful."
— Deborah Blum
Pulitzer Prize winner, author of Sex on the Brain,
Love at Goon Park, and The Poisoner's Handbook
The Chemistry Between Us attempts to do what no other book has done: present a grand unified theory of how love, sex, and human social bonding is created in our brains, how that creation drives our behavior, and to place these mechanisms into social, historical and even political contexts.
Provocative, opinionated, and written with humor and insight for the lay reader, The Chemistry Between Us offers answers to some of the most tumultuous, joyous, heart-breaking, questions every one of us faces at some time in our lives, and asks us to consider the broader social impact of molecular events in our heads.
What makes two people, strangers before meeting for the first time, conclude that they not only would like to, but must, spend the rest of their lives together? What could happen inside the brain of a sober, responsible, married man, a federal judge, to enable him to carry a loaded pistol while buying drugs for his stripper paramour? How could male violence relate to the brain chemistry of love? Why would a young woman, happily committed to her boyfriend, flirt with a jerk?
What can the story of a young adoptee tell us about our current culture of parenting? What drives a mother to behave like a mother, and what does that have to do with human romantic love? How are grown men like babies? (Besides the whole whiny-with-the-flu thing.) What can we learn from rats that refuse to have sex unless they're wearing leather? What's the relationship between sexual fetish and love, and drug addiction and love?
What is gender? Do brains have a gender? How can some people be attracted to others of the same sex? What causes a person with all the body parts of a man to insist he's a woman? Or a bodily female person to insist she's a man?
Readers on the left and the right, people of all faiths, sexual orientations, and relationship status, are bound to find elements of The Chemistry Between Us that they'll object to fiercely, only to read on and find something to applaud. At the very least, readers will be fascinated, and likely to find themselves asking some serious, and some not-so-serious, questions about the world we're making and how that world might be affecting the very nature of human relationships.