The Science of Lust.

Legend has it that the Buddha saw sexual energy as the strongest of all energies in existence; and the most difficult energy to relate to skillfully. The Ancient Chinese also saw the concept of Yin and Yang (male and female sexual energy) as a perfect opportunity for balance and hence a skill that teaches resilience. A skill, as you might know, is defined as the ability to do something well, or the ability to be an expert at something. Lust, on the other hand, is a strong craving, often sexual, that causes fire and desire. To lust for someone means to passionately yearn for them; but people can lust for things as much as they can lust for people. This is called “greed.”

So, what about sexual chemistry makes it so… difficult? What makes it a skill? These are all questions that I’ll aim to answer in this article.

We constantly hear about the concept of love at first sight and falling in love. But why don’t we talk about lust at first sight or falling in lust? Before answering that, think about the subject of Chemistry. Not only does this topic define the very complex interactions between all matter, it also represents one of the most important aspects of Modern day science; a subject that investigates and explains how energy atomizes, interacts, and even forms new atoms that will then either live or transform. The first rule of Thermodynamics, in the language of Chemistry and Physics, is that energy cannot be created or destroyed – only regenerated. This is important to keep in mind because it means that the sexual energy we feel towards certain people isn’t new; it’s existed before and it’s recycling. In other words, as reincarnated beings of the Universe , our souls – including all of their desires – have been here before. As a result, they’re taking us through an array of lessons in order to redeem past life karmas, and create order in the entire Universal system.

But what exactly happens when someone lusts for someone/something? What chemicals are released from their brain and why? As a Neuroscience student, these are some of the questions I’ll be answering in order to investigate the science of lust, or the concept of lust at first sight.

The first region of the brain that I’d like to expose is the hypothalamus: the area where emotions and sleep are processed. In addition to daily functions, the hypothalamus is involved in maintaining homeostasis (temperature, hunger, thirst, etc), and coordinating both the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary glands. With that said, guess what else is secreted out of the pituitary glands? CORTISOL from the cortex (outer part) of the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and it is released in varying doses during stressful situations. This is why we’re always prone to a certain degree of stress. In fact, in my psychology class, I learned that moderate levels of stress were perfect for performance; while relatively high and relatively low levels of stress caused too much or too little stress, which then caused poor performance. The biology and psychology of this concept is fascinating indeed; the fact that you can be so “in lust” with someone/something that it makes you stressed out and angry when you don’t see or talk to them. But that’s the role that cortisol plays – it keeps us fixated and on the edge about what’s to come, including prospective romances.

Another neurotransmitter that is generated during attraction is DOPAMINE. This drug is the “feel good” drug that many of us have heard about. However, did you know that a significant amount of dopamine is released from your brain every time your neurons fire and tell your brain that the person you’re looking at is attractive? When dopamine is released, it makes you feel “in love”’with whatever it is you’re fascinated by. But the reality is that this isn’t love, it’s merely lust. This is how lust is created from a scientific perspective: it’s all about neurons firing and telling the brain, “Hey, we like this… give us more of it… asap.” In return, the universe (The Divine Energy; The Ultimate Source, God, etc) responds to these ‘prayers’ with nothing but glory, and the subject might start receiving that which they always “desired”. However, one must ask themselves whether desire is something worth living for entirely; whether the vain of your existence is truly to satisfy those parts of yourself that desire things 24/7?

Another neurotransmitter, and the last one of the day, is norepinephrine, which is a hormone that is also released during attraction. This chemicals makes us giddy, energetic, and euphoric; even leading to decreased appetite and insomnia. This means you actually and literally be so “in love” that you can’t eat and can’t sleep. That’s a real thing and people should acknowledge it more! In fact, norepinephrine, also known as noradrenalin, may sound familiar because it plays a large role in the fight or flight response, which kicks into high gear when we’re stressed and keeps us alert. So next time you or your friend are in a predicament where you feel so heartbroken that you can’t eat, just remember that a neurotransmitter is releasing too much K+ channels, and as a result making the blood more negative and more acidic. This is what causes that “bitter pain” you feel in your throat, elbow, or other part of your body such as your heart when a devastation such as the end of a relationship or a loss/death marks on you.

With that said, we’ve discussed the role of the Hypothalamus, dopamine, cortisol and the norepinephrine neurotransmitters. 4 of 40. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what your destiny is; and I think that’s the power of lust. It’s all in your control. Whatever you “lust” for, you will get. But is it always going to be worth it? Lust is a prime motivator for sexual activity amongst all animals – as there must be attraction in order for reproduction and hence the transfer of gene anew can survive. But think about all the unwanted pregnancies that have been birthed from lust and not love? Wouldn’t the world truly be a better place if we functioned based on the latter? The truth is, this is a complex matter that many scientists are still trying to investigate themselves, especially as we see a huge rise in the promotion of mindfulness techniques and programs promoting practices such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga – all of which I think are a great start to minimizing the negative effects of lust.

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