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Today’s episode we’re going to talk about love and sex and how the brain is affected by these two charged emotional events in our lives. We’ve talked a lot about sex in this podcast and if you haven’t heard our previous episodes, check out episodes 16 and 61.
Speaker 9: On tonight's topic regarding love, sex and the brain, we've all heard the phrase or the saying, "Men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love." I think we've all seen people who partake in these behaviors, many to high risk, and self-destructive. What are some of the reasons, maybe psychologically and physiologically, for this? For those who have some of these high-risk behaviors, how they might be able to identify and stop this, and maybe get on a path to better health and better behavior?
Dr Daniel Amen: So many couples have this issue where they use sex as a weapon. They use it as hurtful behavior in their relationships. For people who get addicted to it, and it's going to happen more than ever because online pornography is so easy to happen, we'll see ADD people have a much higher incidence. People who've been on their video games for a long time, they just need that next excitement; that next thrill. They're going to have more of it, and it's going to ruin their level of intimacy and, you know, it's a very good question. We have to be so thoughtful about it. Now, naturally we're wired ... Guys are wired to have as many offspring as they can. You know, we're always sort of checking out that girl. I mean, that's part of our evolutionary makeup. Girls do not have that wiring, because, you know, one night can end up into a nine month, really 20-year consequence.
Where, you know, guys can sort of ... They don't have the same level of commitment often to children. There is this sort of natural wiring that makes this different, but at the same time I'm very concerned about our society and always needing that next thrill in order to be able to pay attention to anything at all.
Speaker 9: For individuals who partake in that behavior, it's really self-destructive for them, and they're sacrificing relationships as a result, what can they do to try to get on a path to better health?
Dr Daniel Amen: For example?
Speaker 9: Maybe a woman who gives sex out regularly just so she can try to get that love.
Dr Daniel Amen: Oh, you know, that happens so frequently. It's often the matter is her picker. Her ability to choose someone that is healthy for her. Because, you know, if you're in a loving relationship, only give it out to someone who's going to be a good partner for you. They often have no idea, in large part, because of their modeling. These are people, often if they get into really great psychotherapy, they can sort of figure out, "You know, this is not a good pattern for me." If they don't have the role models, and often they don't, then learning new ways, but it takes a while to make different decisions. I've seen through medicine sometimes ... I mean, a lot of the people you're describing are people that have ADD that are girls that have it, and they really never knew that, but they're excitement-seeking. They get excited by finding someone new.
They get excited with the early, great sex. They then get excited with fighting with the person, and then they get excited by all the drama around the breakup. Then afterwards, they get excited when they met somebody else new. I see that pattern a whole lot in girls and women who have untreated ADD. Work to optimize your brain, treat any problems that you have as early as possible, and if you notice the pattern in your life is not all that helpful for you, you know, a great psychotherapist can really help you figure that out and go, "Is my behavior getting me what I want?"
Speaker 10: My question is: the concern for younger people, as you mention, that they're kind of ... Needing higher and higher levels of stimulation. How is that affecting the intimacy that they're experiencing in their relationships?
Dr Daniel Amen: It's huge. We don't know, but what's coming to our country is a very high level of addictions, because from the time they're little now, parents thinking they're doing the loving thing by getting them cellphones and getting them Xbox games, and getting them computer games ... All of those things drive our attention spans to need more and more and more excitement in order to be able to focus at all. What you see are text messaging relationships, but they're cheating on the person with four other people also having text messaging relationships. It's not good. I mean, haven't you ever wondered why there's Saw 1, Saw 2, Saw 3, 4 and 5? What the hell is that about? I mean, what brain is craving that kind of barbaric response? It's those people who are dopamine deficient.
We are in trouble. I remember walking into my office, my daughter was on the computer, and she was talking to ten people at once. I'm wondering, how do you talk to anybody at all if you're talking to ten people at the same time? I think we need to be more cautious. Rather than just, you know, you go to the electronic fair in Las Vegas, and there's Steve Jobs, and it's the latest toy, what we need as a society to be more thoughtful on what we unleash on our children, or even on ourselves.
Speaker 10: Okay. Thank you. Does that also mean that, with the brain needing more stimulation, that in physiologically ... Or I guess brain related to physiological, that they need more stimulation in terms of intimacy too?
Dr Daniel Amen: Absolutely. We are creating much more ADD in our society. The incidence of learning and behavior problems in children has doubled since 1972, and it's going to double again, I predict, because we never teach our kids to just sit down. One of the beautiful things about growing up Catholic is we would go to church, and we just have to sit there. We learn to pray and meditate and think as opposed to, "Let me give you this toy so that I don't have to talk to you, because I'm busy on my computer." We have to be more thoughtful. Thank you for your question.