The effects of secure bonds on the human organism


Love is not literature, it is not poetry, and it is not utopia. It is not marketing, nor fiction (we mentioned it in this post): love is a need that has to do with life.

In any form and species. Not just human or even just animal!

Bonds and relationships are also part of plant existence and needs.

The sanseveria in the bedroom, the monstera deliciosa in the middle of the jungle and the dandelion in the middle of the fields are not only sentient and sensitive beings, that is, organisms that “see” and “feel” the world around them, but they thrive within a system of family connections and relationships. 

They defend their loved ones, alerting them if a threat approaches.

They nurture their family members.

If even the ficus recognizes family ties and protects them, and if even the gerbera spites all the other weeds-herbs included-that are not part of its family, then perhaps it is time to rethink how we think and tell ourselves about love.

Love is an organic need that either defends or threatens our survival. 

That is why it is a drug.

Among the most powerful. Perhaps the most powerful of all endogenous ones.

Love is a drug.

In the literal sense of the word drug and in both meanings at the origin of the term, which comes from the Greek pharmakon, “remedy, medicine” but also “poison.”

Love is a medicine because through a number of specific properties, just like a drug, it produces effects on the functions of a living organism.

It can be the nourishment of our psychophysical well-being.

It can be a medicine that protects and repairs our ills.

Love can be, as Plato already said, the spell that cures our soul, on whose health ours depends, all round (or as the business says, “360 degrees”!).

“You must cure the soul first and foremost and to the highest degree, if you want the condition of the head and the rest of the body to be good as well. And the soul, my dear, has to be taken care of with certain spells.” 

From the tip of the hair, down down the ten to twelve feet of our bowels, down to the toenails.

“One should not try to heal the eyes without the head nor the head without the body, likewise the body without the soul.”

The physiological effects of secure ties

Safe bonds are at least as good for the soul as they are for the body.

Especially if we remember that body and psyche are a unicum, not separate departments, and that therefore, as a unique and indivisible whole they reflect each other’s well-being.

When we feel safe, loved, acknowledged, protected and defended, our body puts into circulation a number of substances that strengthen us and help us experience positive emotions, such as oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins.

Oxytocin is called the love hormone because it promotes maternal attachment, lactation, partner bonding, and social relationships. The magic happens because this hormone is able to reduce the activity of the “sympathetic” nervous system (responsible for flight or fight reactions in case of danger) and increase that of the “parasympathetic” system, which conversely facilitates relaxation. Research has shown that oxytocin can increase levels of trust in other people even after rejection, and that it can inhibit the fear centers of the brain, reducing the effect of fear-related stimuli. Not only that, oxytocin can heal broken hearts. No, that’s not a metaphor: Oxytocin helps regenerate heart tissue after a heart attack by helping to repair necrotic cells. Basically, it helps to heal wounds in the heart.

Serotonin is not only the hormone of happiness (and that would be plenty!), but it is also directly related to our immune defenses. Produced 95% by the intestinal bacterial flora (in the enterochromaffin cells of the gastrointestinal wall) and 5% in the serotonergic neurons of the brain, this molecule:

  • regulates gut metabolism and motility;
  • connects the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain directly with the functions of the gut (in fact, we speak of the gut-second brain).

Endorphins are literally “endogenous morphines“, i.e., analgesics produced by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland that produce effects not only against pain, but also on feelings of well-being, mood, stress response, breathing control, gut motility, body thermoregulation, appetite, and sleep quality.

Every time we feel safe, and every time we only think back to a safe connection, we produce substances that improve the health of our bodies. The soul’s spell brings internal effects and external, physiological, emotional effects that are immediately noticeable.

Love repairs the wounds we see and those we cannot see. 

It makes us stronger.

It makes us forget the big and small troubles of our lives. 

It makes us more open. More creative. Even more productive.

When love is lacking in our existences, it shows. Our organism knows it. Our cells and bacteria suffer from it.

It doesn’t matter if we tell ourselves that we don’t need love, or that we don’t believe it, or that we don’t trust it….

Our organism not only needs air, water, air, food and shelter to survive: it needs human connections.

It needs bonds that make it (and therefore us) feel protected.

From cradle to grave, our organism hungers for love.

When love is lacking, the organism wastes away.

##The flip side of the coin.

Being a drug, love can also be a drug that intoxicates our organism. Even it can be a poison that prevents us from healing, or makes us sick.

As therapists who specialize in EFT – Emotionally Focused Therapy – we experience this every day, in turn entering into connection with people who seek our help, and who no, are not just couples seeking the eponymous therapy… (but more on this topic later).

In the next article, which will go online on Sunday, December 24, besides wishing us well, we will talk about another ambivalent phenomenon with a post entitled:

People who hate Christmas

(Plato, Carmid, 156d – 157c)

On the intelligence of plants, Stefano Mancuso, “Bright Green,” 2013, Giunti

On their sensitivity, again Stefano Mancuso, “The Secret Life of Plants,” 2020, Il Saggiatore


  • (Platone, Carmide, 156d – 157c)
  • Sull’intelligenza delle piante, Stefano Mancuso, “Verde brillante”, 2013, Giunti
  • Sulla loro sensitività, sempre Stefano Mancuso, “La vita segreta delle piante”, 2020, Il Saggiatore
  • Stringimi Forte, Sue Johnson, 2008, Raffaello Cortina