By Gatonye Gathura
For several weeks recently Justice Roselyne Aburili of the High Court in Kenya trended on social media for jailing Truphena Ndonga Aswani for a day for murdering her husband.
Views on the matter varied widely but a prominent thread was for abused partners to ship out before catastrophe strikes.
“Bailout whatever the case; the earlier the better,” posted Regina on Facebook receiving near-unanimous applause.
“Run for your lives, both women and men who are abused. There is no love that can never be lost,” Justice Aburili had advised.
“But what if yours is an unbreakable love with the beast?” posted Jacklee on Facebook to lukewarm support and even near hostility.
“That could be an addiction and we have a cure for it,” says “Dr” Alfha, a love ‘doctor’ going by his posters stuck on lamp posts all the way from the City Stadium to Muthurwa Market in Nairobi.
“When a client wants to claim back lost affection we normally prescribe a love portion but also a reverse antidote to suppress attention to the third party who may have been stealing the love,” the “Dr” told us in a phone consultation.
The antidote, he says can be so powerful that it will break any love addiction making it suitable for people in unbreakable abusive romantic relations.
Whether this works we do know but conventional biotechnologists have also been working on similar anti-love cures.
“Already drugs that alter our minds and the way we think and act about love, sex and relationships exist and others are being created,” says Dr Brian D. Earp a researcher at Oxford University, UK.
Anti-love drugs Earp notes are unofficially already in use, citing reports in Israel where some ultra-Orthodox Jews have prescribed antidepressants to students of religion to reduce their libido.
In 2019 the Israeli health ministry had opened investigations on whether any ethical red lines had been breached.
Israel media had widely reported that ultra-Orthodox men were being prescribed the antipsychotic drug Risperidone, and anti-depressant Paroxetine to remain chaste for religious reasons.
In one of his papers appearing in The American Journal of Bioethics, Earp tells how a Christian man suffering from Internet “sex addiction”—a condition he felt was ruining his marriage—was treated with oral naltrexone to control his urges.
Naltrexone, sold under the brand names ReVia and Vivitrol among others is a medication primarily used to manage alcohol or opioid dependence.
Earp also gives the example of a married man whose unparalleled jealousy was treated with the antidepressant drug clomipramine.
The principle behind the use of antidepressants as a love antidote is their ability to give one a sense of detachment from friends, family, and spouses.
This, the bioethicist says may help some people who are in dangerous relationships and know they need to get out, and even want to but are unable to break their emotional attachment.
“If, for example, a woman in an abusive relationship could access medication that would help her break ties with her abuser, then, assuming it was safe and effective, we think she could be justified in taking it.”
Another drug that has been tested by relations therapists is the notorious ecstasy – a stimulant that apart from providing a high it is known to promote self-love.
Earp and his colleague Julian Savulescu say in this way ecstasy can act as an anti-love drug, allowing patients to see themselves as better than the toxic relationships they’re in and capable of moving on.
“The idea is to save those people who find themselves chemically, irrationally attached to a person who repeatedly and deliberately hurts them,” says the duo.
Most antidepressants are known to dramatically reduce libido, sex drive, and even the ability to get an organism, hence reducing partner bonding.
Dr Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University, US, says the side effects of these drugs have also been known to reduce attraction and attachment to a partner leading to separations and even less painful divorces in some cases.
By taking this anti-love pill, people could potentially delete the loving feelings they have for someone – end of the story.
Apart from bringing hurtful love to a chemically induced ‘happy’ ending scientists says the pills can also be used on people with peculiar sexual addictions such as incest, pornography, pedophilia, peeping Toms and even rapists.
To tame rapists Kenya legislators have for long toyed with the idea of male castration. “We should amend the Sexual Offences Act to allow for the castration of rapists and child predators,” legislator Aden Duale had suggested.
But with the new medical advances, Earp argues the use of the prescription drug triptorelin, for example, maybe gentler and more effective.
Triptorelin is used for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer in men and works by reducing the male sex hormone testosterone also known to help the cancer grow. Reducing testosterone is also known to reduce sexual aggression.
“The administration of triptorelin has shown a reduction in pedophilic sexual fantasies and urges among some men,” says Earp.
The duo warns that there are still serious ethical issues over the use of such drugs because tinkering with the human hormonal systems could trigger unknown but potentially serious side effects.
Earp gives the example where people struggling with pedophilia, voyeurism, public masturbation, compulsive use of prostitutes and peep shows , and tendency to rape were treated with the prostate cancer drug flutamide in combination with the testosterone reducing drug leuprolide.
“The researchers reported positive outcomes in controlling some of the targeted habits but complications occurred in every one of the 12 cases described.”
One patient, he says experienced nausea and vomiting; some lost the ability to ejaculate or have an erection altogether; others showed a complete absence of sexual feeling or interest and became severely depressed.
“For the sake of the children, I would be willing to take the chance,” says Monica Kawira of Kiambu who likens her 13-year- marriage to a furnace.
If the drug could extinguish the fire burning in her beast, but he keeps providing for the children, she says her prayers would have been fully answered.
But then Kawira may have to choose to live with a peaceful cabbage or an explosive fire.