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Kathy Marshack News

The Chemistry of Friendship – What Explains It?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Why do we “click” with certain people? Often our friendships are based on commonalities, but science reveals our genes and brain chemistry play a part, too. Why are you friends with one person, but not with another? What makes us “click” with only certain individuals? It’s true that often our choice of friendship is based on things we have in common, such as age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, education, or politics. And science reveals that our genetic makeup influences our choice of friends to a certain degree. Now a recent New York Times article reports on research that shows it also a matter of chemistry…brain chemistry, that is.

After studying the social network among a class of 279 graduate students, researchers found that friends resemble each other in the actual structure of their brains.

As the group watched video clips, the researchers took MRI scans, which revealed that the brain’s neural activity was similar among the people who were friends. The scans showed their brains actually responded to video clips in the same way. Researchers could predict the strength of a social bond based on observing these brain scans. That’s amazing! I’d love to see this test applied to people with Empathy Dysfunction. I wonder what it would show.

Living without friendship is as damaging as other health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, or smoking. One research project shows that social isolation elevates fibrinogen, a protein associated with inflammation and chronic disease.

Why not call or text a friend right now and meet them sometime this week? Not only will you have fun. It’s also good medicine for your physical, emotional and mental health! Never be “too busy” for your friends. A close friend is a priceless treasure.

There's a wise saying, "to have a friend, you have to be a friend." People who cultivate radiant empathy have strong, lasting friendships. I’ll show you how to cultivate greater empathy in my book, “When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you.” Not only will your social life improve, but you’ll also have the skills to protect yourself from any toxic relationships you encounter.



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