“It’s a thin line between love and hate”


I wonder whether The Persuaders knew how true these words would prove to be when they first sung them in 1974.

Modern Brain Imaging has allowed us to discover that there isn’t really a line at all, they come from the same place in our brains, and the same proteins and chemicals that affect our perceptions and emotions are involved in both.

In Steven Quartz and Terrence Sejnowski’s book: Liars, Lovers and Heroes. They summarise in Chapter 10, on where brain science will take us:

“Will it be possible someday to find our human core and begin to understand our real feelings and needs?”

Steven and Terrence are clearly suggesting that we really don’t understand our true motives at all. And this may be because we have evolved this way. And I would have to agree with them.

One thing that has become abundantly clear through my reading, and through my own life experiences, is that the conscious mind is vastly inadequate at understanding our feelings and needs, and if anything makes up rationalisations for feelings and needs that it doesn’t understand, and we can get these rationalisations disastrously wrong. This can have a huge destructive input on our lives. And our misinterpretations have destructive impact on the lives around us, this could lead to the source of much misery and suffering in our relations with others..

“There are large individual differences in emotional expression, as John Gabrielli and his colleagues at Stanford have begun to explore with brain imaging. These differences are partly down to genetically based variations

(and partly due to life experience variations [my edit]), including the speed and strength of the emotional response, the ability to control a response or the time needed to recover from it, and the malleability of emotions”They go on to say:

“Indeed there are compelling reasons to think that the desires and goals that evolution has crafted for you are deeply incompatible with your happiness.
Consider the human compulsion to provide explanations for what goes on around us. This is largely adaptive, as we have seen. Yet this compulsion drives us to create explanations, to find some deeper hidden logic in life – even when there may be no real explanation”
One of the most common conflicts occurs in relationships. With our brains so delicately balanced, where even the slightest unbalancing of the proteins and chemicals that control our decision making and emotions can throw us out of balance and in to a schizophrenic episode. And considering that romantic love and rage have such chemical and geographical similarities in our brains, is it no wonder that domestic violence is responsible for more homicides than any other category?
It could be that as these feelings are so closely related, and as the above mentioned rationalising of feelings and needs we don’t understand, that rage can be an expression of love, misinterpreted by us, then rationalised by inventing a reason for that rage, someone to blame, when it is really just a crossed wire. Could this be where “Fear of Love” comes from?
How many of us have experienced a loved one’s rage where we cannot see a rationalisation or reason, where their rage makes no sense.
I certainly experienced this last year in a relationship. And I have little doubt that such mistakes of interpretation are common in relationships. The need to formulate rational explanations for our impulsive emotions, feelings and behaviour is now an unquestionable fact of our biology thanks to neuroscience. So what if we are motivated to act in a certain way by feelings and needs we don’t understand, and then create a rationalisation to fit? This is what modern brain science is suggesting we do all the time and it has huge implications for our behaviour and future as a race.
In November 2004, I moved in with a woman who began weekly abusive attacks on me almost as soon as we moved in together (about 3 weeks after moving in together), there was little logic to her accusations and I was subject to regular threats because of some crime I supposedly committed against her. Her first rationalisation was that she was projecting a past event. At the time it was such a deeply confusing experience, and one that I have since realised was very traumatic for me, but, at the time, I tried and tried to apply calm and logic to the situation (failing in calmness on a couple of occasions), and this was only met with increased ferocity. Could it have been a case of “Fear of Love”? A misinterpretation because the feeling of love motivated rage, and her innate human need to rationalise the rage created a need for someone to blame? Was she confused by her own feelings and response to feelings and did she need to invent a rationalisation that saved her from her confusion? Without a doubt she was clearly confused by her feelings, things she said and wrote, her perceptions and accusations, had no basis in logic or objective evidence. There was a lot of twisting of facts and some pure invention. There were contradictions all over the place.
The only thing that makes sense is that she was deeply confused by her feelings and was misinterpreting them on a massive scale. Her lack of logic and even sanity in her attempts to explain what she was feeling indicated a deep inner confusion over her feelings and attempts to make sense of them.
There were regular ferocious attacks that contained threats of violence and even murder, also threats to try and destroy me professionally and financially. The only motive for which was that I had hurt her and lied to her in some way, but she was never able to specify what that hurt and lie was. Finally, after we split up and went our separate ways, I got an e-mail response telling me that I had lied to her about loving her. That made no more sense than any of her other rationalisations.
I can only conclude that she had trouble understanding her emotions and feelings and when they went off the scale in terms of her rage and need to attack me, she desperately needed a rationalisation for her behaviour to make sense to her, so she invented a lie and hurt, even though she was unable to objectively explain what that lie and hurt was, she was desperate to cling to her belief that I had done something terrible to her, because the alternative of being motivated to behave in a way that made had no logic, was intolerable. The mechanism of the mind is predisposed to try and make sense of our behaviour, and when our behaviour makes no sense, The mechanism employs our imagination to create one.