Intimacy

Monday 12th, February 2018 / 16:07

Expert Giovanni Frazzetto discusses the importance of intimacy and why we need it.

This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, issue 52.

‘Together, Closer’ is about intimacy and why we need it. Mixing narration and science, it tells stories about relationships.

As human beings, we have a penchant to connect. Like waves cling to the shore, so we are inclined to attach. There may be seasons of low tide, an occasional desire to drift solo, or storms that strand us, but eventually we will seek our return to a harbour. Loneliness can kill, whereas togetherness revives. We live in a world where it is much easier to find ourselves in isolation than in companionship. Yet meaningful relationships are the most nurturing ingredient for our happiness.

Intimacy eludes singular definitions. From casual sex to life-long bonds, from marriage to betrayal, from friendships to unconditional love, or when we witness birth or death, intimacy reclothes itself constantly.

Much as we crave intimacy, we may also be in awe of it. It is an unmasking form of mutual knowledge and belonging which many of us may go to great lengths to shun.

If refracted through the prism of science, the experience of intimacy emerges in the most mundane fragments of our daily lives. It is about how we perceive with all our senses; how we steer our minds and carry our bodies in relationship to others; how we seek and offer rewards; how we predict risks and make decisions; how we fear or encourage; how we create memories; how we trust and make ourselves vulnerable; how we learn. While intimacy is a plausible object of scientific inquiry, it is also an important thread of lived experience.

In Together, Closer we will encounter characters whose fears and desires will usher them in, through and out of intimacy. A single woman in her forties at odds with the uncertainty of finding a partner. A husband who looks back to the beginning of his marriage. A man and a woman entangled in a secret love affair. Incompatible partners caught in a cycle of union and separation. City daters striving to unite love and sex. A father and a daughter whose relationship shines as his death nears. Two men who figure out what they can teach each other. Inseparable friends who together sketch the path of their future intimate lives. Where possible, their thoughts, feelings and actions are explained through notions and experiments in biology, psychology, and neuroscience. Life wisdom is mixed with knowledge of the body and the mind.

Through these stories, we are invited to reflect on our own experience of intimacy. How we reach it and lose it. How we see it disappear or grow as we also transform, and renovate the way we love. How we get close, and closer.

Meet the author: Giovanni Frazzetto was born and grew up in Sicily. In his work, Giovanni connects science, art and literature. In 2008 he was awarded the John Kendrew Young Scientist Award for his efforts in cross-disciplinary and science communication. His book How We Feel, on the neuroscience of emotions, was among the Guardian’s Best Books of Psychology in 2013 and has been translated into thirteen languages. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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