A General Theory of Love Book Summary - A General Theory of Love Book explained in key points
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A General Theory of Love summary

Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon

The science behind falling in love

4.4 (144 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

"A General Theory of Love" by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon delves into the neuroscience of human relationships, exploring how our emotions and physiological responses shape our connection with others. It sheds light on the importance of love and social bonding for our overall well-being.

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    A General Theory of Love
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    The evolutionary history of the human brain can be seen in its three subsections.

    The demystification of human emotions by science is not a recent thing. As early as 450 BC, the Western world’s first physician, Hippocrates, proposed that emotions – such as love – are a product of the brain.

    Even though Hippocrates’ hypothesis turned out to be correct, it took more than 2000 years before scientists began to closely examine the brain and the effect it has on human behavior.

    Today, thanks to the scientific discoveries of the past few decades, our knowledge of the brain has far exceeded that which even the prescient Hippocrates could have predicted.

    One such discovery is that of how the human brain evolved over the millennia.

    In order to survive, our ancestors had to adapt to their changing environments. This included changes in their brains, which helped them to survive in new climates and conditions.

    For example, our distant ancestors were forced by climate change to move from the forest habitat to the dry savannah planes. In order to survive in this harsh environment, their brains had to adapt to out-smart predators and find food. Gradually, step by step, adaptation by adaptation, our established brain structures were transformed.

    What evidence do we have to support this theory?

    The human brain’s evolutionary history can be found in its three subsections.

    The oldest of these, the Reptilian Brain, sits at the top of the spinal cord and controls our most basic bodily functions and impulses.

    Next is the Limbic Brain, situated around the reptilian brain. Here you can find such famous components as the amygdala, which plays a major role in the production of fear.

    The development of the limbic brain has been crucial for the evolution of mammals. In contrast to reptiles, it enables them to feel attachment towards their young. As a result, mammals – unlike reptiles – form close social groups, will protect children or mates and play with each other.

    The newest and largest section of the human brain is the Newest Brain – or Neocortex. The Neocortex is behind such qualities as reasoning, planning and speaking, and allows us, for example, to make decisions based on careful thinking rather than instinct.

    As you’ll see in the following blinks, this three-part brain schema helps us to understand why our behavior in relationships is often surprising.

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    What is A General Theory of Love about?

    In A General Theory of Love, three psychiatrists take a scientific look at the phenomenon of love. Arguing that our emotional experience in adulthood is profoundly influenced by our childhood relationships, the authors suggest ways to undo this emotional “programming” and establish healthier relationships with friends and romantic partners.

    A General Theory of Love Review

    A General Theory of Love (2000) explores the power of human connection and its impact on our emotional well-being. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Its holistic approach combines neuroscience, psychology, and personal anecdotes, providing a profound understanding of the complexities of love and relationships.
    • Through compelling examples and research, the book unveils the science behind human emotions, highlighting the vital role that love plays in our lives.
    • By delving into the intersection of science and love, the book challenges conventional wisdom and offers fresh insights that broaden our understanding of what it means to love and be loved.

    Best quote from A General Theory of Love

    No individual can think his way around his own Attractors, since they are embedded in the structure of thought.

    —Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon
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    Who should read A General Theory of Love?

    • Anyone interested in the psychology of love
    • Anyone interested in neuroscience
    • Anyone who wants to know what love is

    About the Author

    The book is written by three psychiatrists: Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon, who are professors at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine (UCSF). Lewis is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry; Amini, a professor of psychiatry; and Lannon, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry.

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    A General Theory of Love FAQs 

    What is the main message of A General Theory of Love?

    The main message of A General Theory of Love is that love is a fundamental human need and plays a crucial role in our overall well-being.

    How long does it take to read A General Theory of Love?

    The reading time for A General Theory of Love varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is A General Theory of Love a good book? Is it worth reading?

    A General Theory of Love is definitely worth reading. It provides profound insights into the science of love and how it shapes our lives.

    Who is the author of A General Theory of Love?

    The authors of A General Theory of Love are Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon.

    What to read after A General Theory of Love?

    If you're wondering what to read next after A General Theory of Love, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Why We Love by Helen Fisher
    • The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
    • How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • 30 Lessons for Loving by Karl Pillemer
    • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
    • Advice Not Given by Mark Epstein
    • Read People Like a Book by Patrick King
    • Don't Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen
    • Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray