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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

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Daniel Lieberman: Yes, that's right. It increases the amount of dopamine that's active at any given point in time. But that's basically by ferrying it from an inactive place to intact place. The right on the other side, they call themselves conservatives. They're much less interested in change. They’re much else interested in things that are new. They're more here and now. They want to preserve the things they valued that they've inherited from their forebearers. And so, they're much less likely to have active dopaminergic circuits. Mike Long: Yes, anticipation to cultivate your ability to just experience where you are. To put the first simple things. I put the phone down during dinner, turn it off when you're talking to somebody, look in their eyes and listen to what they say. Don't worry about what you're going to say next. Listen to be here now, as the phrase goes. The simple awareness that this exists at all is a profound gift that you can give yourself. Daniel Lieberman: That's why there's a fine line between art and insanity. Sometimes we don't know. Sometimes initially we say, this is crazy. This is not art. And then maybe a few decades later we take a second look and we say “wait a minute. That is art.” From the inside, though, it's actually very rational because you have to remember that these circuits were designed by evolution to keep us alive and make us successful. The problem with drugs is, is they give this chemical blast to the dopamine system — almost like a guided missile that causes more dopamine stimulation than natural behaviors.

The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain

Mike Long: And I think it's interesting to note that if you, if you hear about it or if you see it on a screen or if you're touching every level that increases that here and now participation makes the problem harder. Daniel Lieberman: So, I think that schizophrenia is the classic illness of too much dopamine. When, when we scan our environment for things that are important, what we're most interested in is how is it important for me? Mike Long: Just to be technical for a minute, it doesn't actually increase the volume of dopamine. It increases the dopaminergic activity in across the cells, right? You survey people about this and ninety percent now say no. It's not ethically permissible to do it. Mike Long: And so, that's, that's one step away from ink pen walk it to mommy. Well, that's a dog. And I bought sound? Yes.Daniel Lieberman: Not only that, but we can actually shift people to the left or the right by surreptitiously influencing what parts of their brain are going to be more active. So, for example, if you are under threat, that's going to activate your here and now circuits because you need to protect what you already have. Daniel Lieberman: There are case reports of people who have been completely absent from sex their entire life. They're treated with these drugs, and all of a sudden, they become compulsively sexual. Daniel Lieberman: So, you know, people will take amphetamine and it will make them work harder. It will make them more excited. It will focus them in on being goal directed, but eventually it will also ruin their life. So, artificially boosting dopamine is not the best strategy for a successful life. Kaitlin Luna: Welcome to Speaking of Psychology, a biweekly podcast from the American Psychological Association. I'm your host, Kaitlin Luna. The topic for this episode is dopamine. It's known as the chemical of love, sex, creativity and addiction. Dopamine always wants more. It pushes us to achieve greatness but can also lead to our downfall. Our guests for this episode are Dr. Dan Lieberman, professor and vice chair for clinical affairs and department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the George Washington University, and Mike Long, a speech writer, screenwriter and playwright who teaches writing at Georgetown University. They co-wrote a book called The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, Creativity and will determine the fate of the human race. The answer's dopamine. They're not able to transfer from that dopaminergic hope and anticipation into the here and now. So, what are these chemicals? For love, probably the most important chemical is oxytocin. That's a chemical many people have heard of. It's sometimes called the cuddle chemical.

The Molecule of More - Booktopia The Molecule of More - Booktopia

The other way we spend our time is anticipating, planning, looking forward to thinking about things that have yet to occur. And that's a different kind of pleasure. And a dopamine is the conductor of that pleasure. And once you begin to divide the world, divide your experience, divide your personal experiences into those two categories, dopamine’s, dopamine’s roll rises to the fore — becomes obvious that there are different ways we move through the day and different reasons we are motivated. Some are more motivated by things in the future. Things they’re working toward. Some are motivated by how beautiful this is or what the experience is like, and they're very different things. Daniel Lieberman: I think perhaps the broadest way to describe dopamine is that it's designed to maximize future resources, and we can see that working in ourselves when we're constantly focused on the future, I need more. I'm not satisfied. I'm not a good enough person rather than just kind of taking a deep breath and saying wow, look at all the wonderful things I have, the good things I've done. I'm grateful for them. From dopamine’s point of view, it’s not the having that matters. It’s getting something—anything—that’s new. From this understanding—the difference between possessing something versus anticipating it—we can understand in a revolutionary new way why we behave as we do in love, business, addiction, politics, religion—and we can even predict those behaviors in ourselves and others. Kaitlin Luna: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I was like that seems a little simplistic. You're saying it's, it's not as easy as that? And yet, dopamine remains and correct me if I'm wrong, Dan, at the same levels. It's always been more or less here. Here we go, and dopamine has to have something to do. And that leads to these cultural effects. These cultural conflicts. These personal experiences that are — are sometimes frustrating. Sometimes, curious and strange. And that's where we went with the book is understanding how dopamine got us to this point, how it explains so much trouble we find ourselves in today and so many curious experiences we have.Daniel Lieberman: That’s right. We really do have enough. We don't need a new cell phone. We don't need a bigger TV. We should just experience what we have and enjoy it. Kaitlin Luna: Wow, that’s amazing. Thank you so much for joining us. This has been an absolutely fascinating conversation. So, I think that knowing and being able to recognize when your dopamine circuits active, when they're here on now, circuits active and is this really the way you want to behave? That's what's going to empower you. Let's say you're walking down the street and you see a pebble lying in a puddle. You're probably not going to think anything of it. But, if a highly dopaminergic poet is walking down the street and sees that same pebble, he may feel that that pebble is speaking to him in a very deep way that that pebble is revealing something about humanity and the world. He may even feel like that that pebble somehow reveals the hidden divinity of the world. And he may go on write a very beautiful poem about that that inspires dozens of people.

Molecule of More summary - Blinkist The Molecule of More summary - Blinkist

Kaitlin Luna: Yeah, and this is what we're seeing with this emphasis on mindfulness and people wanting to be here now. I think, because we are living in a world that's very dopamine-centric, with constant, you know, instant gratification all the time. So, that's where I imagine some of this is me, just editorializing. But, where we're seeing this boom and mindfulness. Daniel Lieberman: So, to get a sense of what it feels like to have dopamine pushing you along versus trying to go forward without dopamine. Think about working on a project that you're incredibly excited about. Typically, it's going to be a project that involves some degree of creativity. I do a little bit of programming. I also love to make PowerPoint presentations. I'm a total nerd. How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity―and Will Determine the Fate of the Human RaceMike Long: That fine line between oh, here, these things and I could put them together into something useful. And here are these things and they're just going to spill out.


Mike Long: I think this begins to open the door on what we think is so interesting about the book. dopamine, obviously has his evolutionary roll, and it has fulfilled it well, and to this point, it's, it's great. But, here we are in a modern age where a lot of the things that it was required for in a raw, empty place, we don't have that problem anymore. We don't have to worry about where the next meal's coming from most of the world. We don't have to worry about where we're going to sleep tonight and who were going to sleep with. Frankly, there are there are mechanisms and civilization to find that person Daniel Lieberman: And the question was, should we save the hundreds of lives in the stadium at the expense of intentionally murdering this innocent child? And it's an updated version of the trolley problem. Kaitlin Luna: And you're talking about achievement with dopamine. How it helps us push us to this next level. So, what is the role of dopamine in making it successful? So, I want to talk about how it makes a successful and also how can make us, you know, lie, cheat, steal and do all sorts of bad things, you know, commit an act of violence?

Kaitlin Luna: So, it's not like the non sequiturs. That's just someone not completely making sense.

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