Throughout the ages, the heart (though cartoonishly distorted) has been considered the seat of emotion in the body. A universal symbol of love, we gift our sweeties with paper hearts and candies nestled in heart-shaped boxes. In fact, the image of a cartoon heart has become so inextricably bound to the concept of love that it is used as a stand-in for the word itself, in everything from emoticons ( ❤ ) to classic/trite souvenir items.
However, it wasn’t always that way.
Back in the day, galleons (around 150 CE), there was a Greek physician by the name of Galen. Galen had a lot of ideas about the human body (due to his intense study of it during his numerous human dissections and vivisections- anything in the name of science, yo), and while many of them later proved inaccurate (like many early biological theories), they were interesting nonetheless. One such theory of his involved the liver. Namely, Galen believed blood originated in the liver before sloshing around the rest of the body. In Galen’s world, the liver became the emotional center of the human body, the origin of the vital fluid of blood.
From a scientific perspective, this is preposterous… but no more preposterous than the idea that the heart is the body’s emotional home. But because we’ve grown up with this strong, symbolic tie between heart and emotion (particularly love), it’s easier for us to accept the idea that our forebears might have seen the heart as the mystical center of love. But the liver? Say it isn’t so.
When you really think about it, though… is it all that strange? Personally, I think it makes more sense to equate the liver with love than it does the heart. After all, most people can’t even accurately pinpoint the emotion we call love and get it all mixed up with a funny feeling in the genitals directed toward another human being. And what facilitates crazy monkey sex… excuse me, crazy monkey love better than booze?
Perhaps we should be rethinking this whole heart = love thing…
Much better, don’t you agree? [I’ll leave it to you lot to think up an emoticon]