Why would someone sacrifice his or her self for another person? Aristotle suggested that it sprung from the innate sociability of humans. Darwin later called it a “Social Instinct” that underlies our moral sense. I believe that it is because deep in the mind, our empathy springs from knowing others as ourselves, and that the impulse for the sacrifice of our self to save another person, is actually the same impulse that would make us want to save ourselves. By sacrificing our self to save someone, we are actually saving ourselves. This concept may lie along the same lines as survival of self and the safety mechanisms involved being the motive behind suicide. Killing ourselves might not make much rational sense to us as conscious beings when our psychological identity isn’t threatened, but as unconscious beings with impulses, which is a far more honest way of evaluating ourselves, it makes perfect sense. We are protecting the illusion or concept as a psychological creation of self rather than the physical existence of self as our identity, and when our psychological identity is threatened, if no other way of protecting that identity is forthcoming or apparent to us, killing our physical self will appear to preserve our identity. The division between our psychological identity and ourselves as beings becomes so great that the connection is lost.

The ability to see in someone else a reflection of ourselves is part of the empathy that has been partly responsible for the rise of our civilisation. it comes from the prefrontal cortex.

I believe there are 2 types of love; “romantic love” and “true love” and they are located in 2 very different parts of the brain. Romantic love has been proven through neuroscience to have it’s basis in a very primitive part of the brain and is closely connected to the mechanisms that also cause rage. This may explain why rage is a common occurrence in romantic relationships and why it is a very small step between love and hate. “Romantic love” comes from a very primitive instinctual part of our brain called the basal ganglia, this includes the amygdala and hippocampus. it’s a part of the genetic survival instinct, part of what makes sure we pass on our genes. “Romantic love” is selfish, it’s about needs and getting needs met, to be honest, calling it love at all seems wrong, because it is an instinct that evolved in order to make sure we formed sexual attachments in order to pass on our genes. It’s all about gratification in order to get primitive needs met. Romanitc love is conditional.

Then there is true love. This appears to come from the prefrontal cortex. It’s unconditional. It can be displayed to total strangers, or people that you previously didn’t seem to have an emotional investement to. Like the teacher with a 2 year old son, she threw her body infront of a female student at Columbine High School and took rounds from a high velocity rifle that killed her, but she saved the life of the student. True love is selfless, although still an instinct, it appears to comes from a higher part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex. The brain part that was the last to develop in our evolution and is believed to be responsible for the building of our social realtionships.

True love is not directional, Romantic love is because romantic love is all about getting needs met, it has to be directional.

The development of the true love capability in the prefrontal cortex doesn’t seem to complete until full mental maturity is reached. In people that have experienced traumatic childhoods, especially in the very early developmental stage, this development may be inhibited or incomplete, thus limiting, or even, not enabling, them to empathise and feel for someone in the “true love” way, leaving them at the mercy of romantic love and it’s needs and capriciousness, without the balancing influence of “true love” from the prefrontal cortex. This will lead to them never being able to have a fulfilling and complete relationship. This may be more widespread and perhaps even increasing in it’s prevalence, as the pressures on children increase, the rate of inhibition will grow, thus increasing the number of people with incomplete emotional development of the prefrontal cortex. This may explain why failed relationships are on the increase, and humanity seems to be reverting back to a more primitive and capricious form of bonding.

People with incomplete development may see others with the ability for true love and their happiness and peacefulness in a very envious light because they are still stuck in the primitive mind with it’s neediness and primal fears of not getting needs met. In essence they are afraid and unhappy, and they envy people that don’t appear to be so afraid and appear happier. They may even have desires to destroy someone else’s happiness out of their envy. Without the balancing influence of “true love” from the prefrontal cortex, they are unable to have lasting monogamous relationships because when their partner fails to meet a need or in someway appears imperfect, instead of empathising with that imperfectness because they are also aware of their imperfectness, the person that is perceived to have failed to meet the unrealistic needs, is quickly rejected, and the pursuit of the “perfect mate” continues. It is the prefrontal cortex, when fully developed, that enables us to feel what others are feeling and put ourselves in their place, this is essential for “true love”, because relationship failures are predominantly based upon not being able to see and empathise with the other person’s point of view as well as our own. In other words, relationship failures are predominantly down to either one or both sides in a partnership having incomplete development of “true love” in the prefrontal cortex.
As the prefrontal cortex is also involved in the dopamine and serotonin systems, there are other factors, other than developmental failures, that can influence our ability to feel what others are feeling. Fear, stress, anxiety, etc. can greatly affect the balance of dopamine and seratonin because of the rise in norepinephrine, hence we appear to become generally more selfish or unthoughtful of others when we are afraid. Regular drug use, which alters the effects and balance of dopamine and serotonin, can temporarily, and perhaps permanently, damage the prefrontal cortex, for instance the cannabis/schizophrenia connection.