Taking Love Too Far

I realize this is not a good topic for the middle of a quarantine, but is it possible to show too much love?

Apparently so. Our bodies are very complex and anything can go wrong. For example, the current PBS show “The Gene: An Intimate History” by documentarian Ken Burns (https://www.pbs.org/show/gene/) is exploring some genetic abnormalities.

So I wasn’t surprised to read about a rare medical condition called Williams syndrome, which causes people to have no fear of strangers, hug uncontrollably, and love everyone equally. Think of this as the opposite of autism. The syndrome afflicts roughly one in 10,000 people worldwide, which means about 30,000 in the United States are affected.

As you might imagine, the cause is a small genetic deletion, about 26 to 28 missing genes on chromosome 7, which causes an excess of oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the love hormone. Unfortunately, there can be other serious symptoms, like intellectual disability, heart defects, and gastrointestinal and muscle tone problems.

I learned about Williams syndrome from a National Geographic article “This Rare Medical Condition Makes You Love Everyone” by Simon Worrall (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/07/williams-health-love-genetics-books/?). Information in the article is based on the book The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story Of Pathological Friendliness by Jennifer Latson, which would be the best source for further information.

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