The Medicalization of Love: A Talk by Brian D. Earp (Yale)


Is there a pill for love?
What about an ‘anti-love drug’, to help us get over an ex?

In this talk, Yale bioethicist and co-author of 'Love is the Drug: The Chemical Future of Our Relationships'' will argue that certain psychoactive substances, including MDMA - the active ingredient in Ecstasy - may help couples work through relationship difficulties and strengthen their bond. Others might help sever an emotional connection during a breakup. Such substances already exist and have transformative implications for how we think about love. Earp will build a case for conducting research into ‘love drugs’ and ‘anti-love drugs’ and explores their ethical implications for individuals and society.

The idea of drugs that intervene in our love lives might sound like one of the truly bad ones - a sinister-sounding ploy to subject yet more of our lives to the medical gaze. Once the door is pushed open, will drug companies dream up new love-related mental disorders that only they have the products to cure? Will the complexities of love be boiled down to localised neuronal firings, targetable with the right medication?

Whether this makes you feel horror – or a glimmer of hope in the despair of a love gone wrong – come along and find out if your fears for the future of our relationships are warranted!

Earp will arm us with the latest scientific knowledge and a suggest a set of ethical tools that might help us to decide if these sorts of medications should be a part of our society. Or whether a chemical romance will be right for us.

Brian D. Earp is Associate Director of the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy at Yale University and the Hastings Center and a Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. His recent book Love is the Drug (published by Manchester University Press) has been praised by Peter Singer as 'a fascinating account of a future that is starting to unfold right now'.

This meeting will be chaired by Anthony Morgan, editor of 'The Philosopher' (


Tickets cost £5.