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Book Report

The Love Doctor

By Rebecca J. Ritzel
Relationships
The Forgotten Art of Love book cover
Photograph by Will Kirk

A Johns Hopkins cardiologist wants you to trust him with matters of the (figurative) heart. In his new book, Armin A. Zadeh mostly sets aside talk of blood vessels and aortic valves to delve into the subject of human relationships.

The Forgotten Art of Love never explicitly cites the golden rule, but that cross-cultural maxim— “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—encapsulates Zadeh’s main premise. Love, as he defines it, is “the urge and continuous effort for the happiness and well-being of somebody— or something.”

Zadeh was moved to write this work after reflecting on Erich Fromm’s 1956 classic The Art of Loving. Many of Fromm’s assertions still hold true, Zadeh writes, especially his insistence on separating falling in love from the state of love. Today, more than half a century later, new tools for studying the brain and nervous system can help us quantify and measure the difference. For example, we know that blood hormones like cortisol and oxytocin peak during the initial phases of falling in love, but nurturing a loving relationship beyond those hormonal surges takes work.

In The Forgotten Art of Love, the author reaffirms many of Fromm’s ideas, backing them with scientific data where possible. He also addresses 21st-century pressures that can hinder relationships— both romantic and platonic—such as hook-up sex facilitated by dating apps and the obsessive use of social media.

In this wide-ranging book, Zadeh also draws from philosophers like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and from religeon. Ultimately, Zadeh urges readers to work their heart muscle harder. That is, to master the art of love and encourage others to do the same.

“[Erich Fromm] viewed love as a deliberate construct of the mind, one that requires effort and focus: that is, an art. By facilitating union between people, love provides the remedy to our anxiety about human separation and awareness of our mortality.”
Cancer Crossings book cover

Cancer Crossings

Tim Wendel

A journalist and Johns Hopkins writer-inresidence recounts his brother’s fight against leukemia and the pioneering doctors who worked to prolong his life. The book is part family memoir, part medical narrative, part sailing as therapy.

Think Tank book cover

Think Tank

David J. Linden, editor

A Johns Hopkins neuroscientist approached 40 leading brain researchers and asked each the same question: “What idea about brain function would you most like to explain to the world?” Read their responses in this irreverent exploration of the human mind.

Pandemics, Pills, and Politics book cover

Pandemics, Pills, and Politics

Stefan Elbe

Faced with threats of pandemics, bioterrorism, and infectious diseases, government policies now include pharmaceutical defenses. In this book from Johns Hopkins University Press, the author offers an in-depth case study of the prominent medical countermeasure, Tamiflu.

Marsha Wills-Karp portrait

Portrait by Tina Berning

5 Picks

Marsha Wills-Karp's must-read books about the environment.

Marsha Wills-Karp is an environmental scientist who chairs Environmental Health and Engineering, a department housed in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Whiting School of Engineering.

  1. Silent Spring, Fortieth Anniversary Edition

    Rachel Carson
    Houghton Mifflin Company (2002)
  2. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

    Elizabeth Kolbert
    Picador (2015)
  3. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

    Ed Yong
    Ecco (2018)
  4. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

    Michael Pollan
    Penguin (2007)
  5. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

    Naomi Klein
    Simon & Schuster (2015)

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