I found this book completely engrossing. Her detailed explanations of human evolution and her logical, clearly thought out and well-supported hypothesis about early sexual behavior allowed me, as a reader, to develop a rather comprehensive picture of patterns in human sexuality. More than any other book I've read on the subject, this one seems to balance the 'biology is destiny' concept with the acknowledged influence of cultural factors. I highly recommend this book for anyone even remotely interested in evolution, human sexuality or a perspective on modern relationships.
Love was once a popular topic for scientists. It lost popularity for a while as a 'fuzzy' and perhaps even unknowable topic of study. Now we are again studying it, chemically, socially, psychologically, and also from the perspective of how it evolved. The evolution of mating behavior is the topic of "The Anatomy of Love." Evolutionary psychologists have come up with various stories about such things as why women might have orgasms, even though they don't seem to need them to reproduce. Can we ever really know what forces caused such behaviors to be selected ? Should women really accept unquestioningly, as evolutionary psychologists like Fisher propose, that their interest in sex is always secondary to their biological purpose to reproduce ? Thought provoking counter-arguments to some elements of this view are found in anthropologist Meredith Small's "What's Love Got to Do with It ?" Helen Fisher does an enviable, if sometimes tedious job laying out the evolutionary story of love, but is it the only story we can make from the evidence of modern human relationships ? Readers who apply these lessons to their own lives would do well to appreciate that human behavior has a flexibility that sometimes defies our interpretations of our own biology, and that those interpretations often change over time. Read this excellent account of how evolutionary psychologists believe love was selected through evolution, but keep in mind the limitations of our knowledge of what really happened early in our evolutionary history. Bone structure may leave fossillized evidence, but love and sex leave very few clues over the eons
Through a careful analysis of a vast archive of anthropological and psychological research, Dr. Fisher constructs a cpmprehensive theory that explains why we love, how it happens, and why it (often) doesn't last. Her style and arguments are persuasive--I have had many occasions to refer back to this book since I read it; It is full of useful insights, particularly on the physiological nature of 'passion', that ecstatic feeling that makes lovers feel joyful or anguished. Written with outstanding clarity
As a scientist (chemist) I enjoy reading science books in other diciplines. Fishers' book was well written and researched, a joy to read. It gives an evolutionary view of how we evolved in body and brain with regards to sex and love, and a great deal of attention is given to the effects of brain chemicals, discovered via modern research. This is a thoroughly enlightening book, and to be read by people with and open mind, in other words, this book does not support the Creationist view of life.
A fascinating study of human mating behaviors, written from a non-judgmental, scientific point, "Anatomy" is a satisfying alternative to the ubiquitous self-help manual. Flirting, love, adultery, and divorce are convincingly explained as mileposts in (wo)man's evolution on the African plains back thousands of millennia. The mating behaviors are shown to be anatomical, in that they are instinctive, not learned. There are hard truths here. Woman in middle-age are divorced because they can no longer reproduce and promulgate their male partner's genes. For women, sex is a commodity to be traded for comfort and security. Love is a few year thing, hooking a man long enough to raise a child past total dependency (today's Kindergarten.). Knowledge without sentiment is powerful and can be dangerous. Exploitation of the mechanics of flirtation could be used by the unscrupulous. (certainly not a new thing!) The demystification of love may remove much from its experience. A wiser lover isn't a happier one. "Anatomy of Love" weakens about half-way through as it becomes bit redundant. Not much is missed if the reader were to skim a little towards the end.