As "50 Shades of Grey" fixes to melt winter's icy hold come Valentine's Day -- inspiring many a couple, we're sure, to DO try this at home -- our intrepid reporters over at MTV News couldn't help but wonder about the truth behind the movie's de facto theme song: Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love."
Is being in love really that close to madness? Should I be worried if I can't stop
spying on thinking about that dude/chick? Is Christian Trevelyan Grey ok? Should we be worried about him?
Being but poor mortals lead by our hearts and nether-regions, we turned to an expert to answer those queries: neurologist Paul Zak, a.k.a. Dr. Love.
"When you're first in love you get this strong activation in a region that's sometimes called the 'wanting system.' It's an area that all animals have -- fish, reptiles -- that motivates us to acquire resources: food, sex, mates," Zak told MTV News.
"Looking at people who are really early in love, you get overactivity in that area. When you get too much activation in this area, then you produce -- in people who chronically have this -- symptoms of psychosis, mania. There's a whole variety of clinical disorders like schizophrenia that are associated with chronic over-activation of these areas of the brain."
So what exactly is going on in all that grey matter? What's driving you to stare at your phone, willing him/her to send you something, anything -- a smiley face emoji at least?
"[There's an] over-production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine [when you're in love]," Zak said. "A major chronic, psychiatric disorder like schizophrenia, psychosis -- they're almost always associated with an over-production of dopamine [as well]. When you are crazy in love, it's like you're psychotic. It's like you're schizophrenic. It's the same thing. You're obsessing about someone. You're in a complete manic phase where you're just running around like crazy."
Or, as Bey would say: "I'm not myself, lately I'm foolish, I don't do this/ I've been playing myself, baby I don't care/ 'Cuz your love's got the best of me."
According to Zak, love affects the brains of men and women differently -- or Jay and Bey. Or Ana and Grey. Apparently, men are a bit more obsessive at first. Remember how Ana keeps calling Grey a "stalker"? Well, that's kind of accurate. And remember how his stalking gets worse when she pushes him away? Also on-point.
The obsession with love is ratcheted up, Zak said, when it's not fed. So all those advice books that tell you NOT to call him? Also those tomes that tell you NOT to see him every time he wants to see you? They're actually kind of legit. Well, if you want to marinate in the obsession stage, that is.
"It actually builds anticipation not to see someone," Zak said, dropping a key word from "50 Shades." "We're a screwed-up species, aren't we?"
With women, however, the obsession really takes root after the couple have been hanging out for a while -- also after they've had sex (or have been entertained in the Red Room of Pain, in Ana's case).
"For women, the effect works on the oxytocin system, so oxytocin is a bonding chemical -- it's released during sex, for example," he said. "It's released more strongly in women than men and it makes you feel good to be with a person -- in a sort of cuddling, need to be near you way. [There's] less obsession. But women are more clingy than men are. For men, it's more wanting the conquest, 'Gotta see her or I'm gonna go crazy,' for women, it's like, 'I need to see you, but I want to stay with you.'"
Still, Zak said, when men are in a relationship, their testosterone falls -- even more so when they have children -- which allows them to kind of settle in and be happy even after that initial obsession fades. Hence Jay and Bey and Blue's bad-assery.
So the next time you're stressing over some dude/chick and wondering if their "love can do what no one else can," just remember: the same thing in your brain that makes you want them also makes you want a sandwich.
Now go chill with Bey, Jay, Ana and Grey.