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by Leil Lowndes
Da Capo Lifelong, 2013
Review by Anthony P. Bober on Mar 26th 2013

How to Create Chemistry with Anyone

It appears the author's main purpose is to promote biological determinism in mating choices.

The prologue lays down the nearly unrelieved thesis of the automaticity of neuro-hormonal domination of choice of love object. With frequent hesitancy she hedges the onslaught, except that Hunter or Huntress may manipulate the Quarry into behavioral grooves. Moreover (12), "Mother Nature [she admits that term as a fiction (21)] has carved out diverse roles for you."

 Chapter One personifies amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, nucleus caudate, and prefrontal cortex, while explaining, as with everything else in uncomplicated terms, six sexy chemicals: dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, estrogen, oxytocin, and vasopressin.

 Chapter Two spins what some rather consider majority-minority-relations (unrelated to numbers or gender) ideologies--"All men are animals," "All women are gold diggers," and the like--into evolutionary, king-of-the-mountain, success-driven fitness.

 From Chapter Three to the end she essentially fits explanatory material around seventy-five "chemistry-sparkers," the first two chapters focusing on initial attraction and online tricks. The remaining chapters concern what sociologists would label as (romantic) "career path" or "life cycle" in a relationship. This last part, constituting sixty to seventy percent of the book, traverses initial contact, dating, sex, a relationship, falling in love, and the long subsequent lifetime of love. She struggles with the idea of putting relationship before sex, as women have long claimed as important to social researchers; we wonder what puts the culturally taken-for-granted falling in love so late. Early (16) she implies that homophile relationships constitute an exception to the heterophile entanglements she elaborates, although in fact those relationships overwhelmingly follow current American "romantic" channels.

 Among the beliefs that Lowndes appears to let overwhelmingly stand unquestioned are that the young are victims of chemistry that not even well-individuated grown-ups escape, that everyone willy-nilly promotes the progressive eugenic improvement of humankind, that males think first of penetration (36-41), that I-love-you chemicals and jealousy genes actually exist (135; 63), that an outdated Me-Tarzan-You-Jane relationship style continues. Her disavowals don't ring true. The issues her assumptions trip are so extensive that it would take a review article merely to touch on them.

 For all her knowledge of sources covering more than the last half-century, she reports them in an un-nuanced way that ignores or misunderstands, among other things, class differences in gender-role behavior, vagaries of role-playing and self-presentation, a near universal incest reluctance rather than taboo, romantic love as a specific complex arising from 12th century Provence and unknown to primitives, and a rich wisdom that can come from maturation. At worst she commits frank gaffes: "For instance, you can't change your or your potential partner's face, body, genotype, phenotype, or DNA." (6). (Only internal "genotype" and external "phenotype" constitute the analytical axis here.)It is wolves, I am sure, not foxes (56) that expose the neck to the teeth of the dominant animal. Comparison of intense romantic love in teenagers to a "hippomanic" (203) stage in so-called patients must mean to say "hypermanic."

 Whatever a reader may salvage from this work will depend on how far she may press the frontiers beyond her authentic way of being, thus risking the other's disillusion when reality rears its ugly head.


© 2013 Anthony P. Bober

A.P. Bober has studied a psychology spanning Skinner and a humanistic-clinical view based on existential phenomenology and had been a PhD candidate in a substantive yet philosophic European-based sociology including the "critical" view. His teaching augmented courses in group theory/"small-group developmental dynamics" (lab) while introducing "sociology of knowledge" and "issues in biological anthropology," with publications in the first two fields. Currently he is writing a book on mystical experience as metaphorically tied to neuroendocrinology.


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