The Molecule of More

By Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long

Recommended on: 10th March 2022

The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity–and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race, by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long.  This book starts out with a bang, differentiating future-oriented, anticipatory dopamine from “here and now” oriented molecules like serotonin: “Dopamine is one of the instigators of love, the source of the spark that sets off all that follows. But for love to continue beyond that stage, the nature of the love relationship has to change because the chemical symphony behind it changes. Dopamine isn’t the pleasure molecule, after all. It’s the anticipation molecule. To enjoy the things we have, as opposed to the things that are only possible, our brains must transition from future-oriented dopamine to present-oriented chemicals, a collection of neurotransmitters we call the Here and Now molecules… [t]hey include serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins (your brain’s version of morphine), and a class of chemicals called endocannabinoids (your brain’s version of marijuana). As opposed to the pleasure of anticipation via dopamine, these chemicals give us pleasure from sensation and emotion.”  And off the authors go on a journey to describe dopamine and its influence on motivation and drive. The end of the book became a bit too speculative for our tastes, but the beginning of the journey made the trip worthwhile.

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