Scientification of Love
by Michel Odent

[1999, London: Free Association Books Limited, 115 pages, hardbound.]

[Editor's note: This review originally appeared in Midwifery Today, Issue 53, Spring 2000. Review by Cher Mikkola.]

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Only someone who has been both a medical doctor/researcher and a homebirth midwife could write a book like this one, which explores love from a scientific angle yet with great respect for the beautiful orchestration of normal physiology as it works to its best capacity when it is undisturbed. Love, we learn, is a strategy for human survival.

The author begins with the primal period which includes fetal life, the perinatal period and early infancy. He explores the behavioral effects of various hormones on birth, postpartum, and the interaction of mother and baby. Using this lens, he then examines the offspring in adulthood: has an undisturbed birth resulted in an expansive capacity to love, or have interventions of many kinds resulted in violent criminality, suicide, impaired sociability, schizophrenia?

The book goes on to explore human sexuality, mysticism, death and prayer as changed levels of consciousness. Odent discusses peak experiences and their impact on human health and well being. The human attraction to water and the physical adaptations of the human body to life in water are given a chapter, as is love at a molecular level, a fascinating look into the physiology of emotional states.

Odent's book gives the reader just enough to think about in regard to each subtopic he raises, while the reader is then compelled to find out more-both by doing further research of a formal nature and obeying the urgent need to tap one's deepest, purest intuition. This in itself sounds like an amazing incitement for an author to accomplish, but for anyone who has been in Odent's presence, it is not at all surprising. This fine book is quintessential Odent-passionate, inquiring and brilliant, with the kind of emerging logic that animates, excites and inspires.

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