We’ve all experienced those times when we were just a little too into somebody and started acting in opposition to our usual behavior. Life suddenly felt much more intense and drove you to say or do things that you’d normally never do or say as if your temporary infatuation was changing your personality and negating your rationality. It can be a frightening, almost out-of-body experience to watch yourself act foolishly and in contrast to your normal behavior.
Thankfully, there’s a real-life, scientific explanation! Frank Tallis, a psychotherapist with 30 scientific papers and a good number of books under his belt, discovered a “spectrum of love-fueled insanity” after encountering several patients who exhibited extraordinary behaviors related to this spectrum (including an elderly widow who suffered from hallucinations because she missed life in the bedroom with her husband, despite having nothing else in common with him).
“Pathological love is much stronger than ordinary love,” Tallis says. “…We can feel mentally safe and secure when we are, in fact, walking on a precipice and can tumble over at any time.”
After detailing the stories of a woman who fell inexplicably and passionately in love with her dentist — who did not reciprocate the feelings in any way — to the point where he fled the country to get away from her, and that of a man who went bankrupt after spending millions of dollars on escorts because he was “addicted to the feeling of having women fall in love with him”, Tallis concludes the situations succinctly:
“The line between normality and abnormality is blurred by love.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of capable therapists and types of psychotherapy that can help you realize and manage this if you’re struggling. Granted, not all of your experiences will be as extreme as Tallis’, but help is always out there should you need it. And, the beauty of psychotherapy is that it covers any number of afflictions, whether related to love and obsession or anxiety and depression. Around 6.9% of adults suffer from depression; don’t let your brain call the shots, contact a psychotherapist if you notice any changes in your mindset or behavior.