How and why intimacy is important in life.
Molecular biologist Frazzetto (Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love: What Neuroscience Can—and Can't—Tell Us About How We Feel, 2014) explores intimacy—an idea that conjures images of closeness, touching, passion, and sharing ideas, moments, and space with another person—via the relationships of eight different couples. Using a mix of their personal stories, biological and chemical information (which can be a bit heavy-handed), psychology, and neurology, the author ponders what intimacy really is, what it means, and how it shifts and changes throughout a person's lifetime. "Like waves cling to the shore,” he writes, “so we are inclined to attach….Loneliness can kill, whereas togetherness revives. We live in a world where it is much easier to find isolation than companionship. Yet meaningful relationships are the most nurturing ingredient for our happiness." Aidan and Carrie have been together for decades, and their love and companionship are comfortable and comforting; Ryan and Vanessa have been having an affair for years; Anita has invented a boyfriend to escape her loneliness; Oscar is dying and must say his goodbyes. Regardless of whether they are heterosexual or homosexual relationships, or between a parent and child, each tender story shows a different aspect of intimacy, including the passion one first might ascribe to the word “intimate.” Frazzetto's method of branching off from the personal narratives into the scientific world doesn't always meld cohesively, but by doing so, he grounds the concepts he presents, lending credence to his ideas. A final chapter summarizing his thoughts would have been useful; the book ends rather abruptly with one woman's perspective on her relationships. However, by showing such varied ways intimacy has evolved for these eight couples, the author leaves the door open for readers to make their own comparisons and conclusions.
Science and anecdote intertwine in this close examination of the bonds that bind humans together.