A couple days ago, I was rollin’ through Philly in Lil’ Berry (that’s the name of my car for those of you who aren’t familiar), and D’Angelo’s song “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker” from his Brown Sugar album came on.
For those of you unfamiliar with the song’s premise, it’s pretty simple. The main character of the song (we’ll call him Dudebro for the rest of the post) finds his woman sleeping with another dude, pulls out a gun, kills them, and gets arrested.
For the full lyrics to the song, you can click here.
The song is basically a series of rhetorical questions. The rhetorical question that got me really thinking was:
“Why am I in handcuffs.”
There was a bit of disbelief in that question. And the disbelief, regardless of how heinous the crime, may actually be for a reason.
Mad props to Dr. Susan Kellogg-Spadt for doing an amazing lecture on the physiology of love during one of my classes. This rhetorical question could not have been answered in this way without her course.
Why is it that Dudebro can’t believe what he’s done?
Because his brain may have been firing off chemicals that make his decision making completely different than when he had not just found out his boo was sleeping with another dude.
It all breaks down to three brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
To explain those really simply:
Dopamine (dope -ah-mean) = The chemical that makes you want to go out and seek pleasure and reward.
Norepinephrine (Nor-ep-en-eff-rin) = A stimulant which make you energetic, sleepless, exhilarated (sound like Cocaine much?).
Serotonin (sare-oh-tone-in) = The chemical that creates calm.
When someone is in a state of love rejection (like Dudebro in the song), dopamine and noreprinephrine are hella high, and serotonin is hella low.
This means that there is no sense of chill, the person is jacked up and looking for an easy way to solve the problem they've encountered. When the brain is all out of whack, it can cause rash decision making.
It’s why someone who really likes food but normally may be able to control their food portions will eat themselves into oblivion after getting dumped. It’s why sometime people will show up on doorsteps or stop at nothing to try to see their ex. Although there’s more to the story than just brain chemicals, they play a part in that impulsivity.
So, to answer D’Angelo’s rhetorical question, ‘Why am I in handcuffs?”
It’s all because dudebro:
a) Had a gun.
b) Probably had some socialization that taught him violence was a way to solve problems.
c) Had out of whack brain chemicals.
BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: Just because brain chemicals are out of whack, that isn’t ever an excuse to kill, stalk or otherwise do something nonconsensual to anyone else. Brain chemicals are NOT the whole story, they're only part of it.
I’m sure someday D’Angelo will thank me for answering a question he never needed answered.
My work here is done.