Definition of Love

What is love?

6.09.2012 | By: T. F.

How do psychologists explain love? What do psychiatrists think? Read the various theories...



what is love

What is your theory about love? Do you even need it to live? (PhotoXpress)


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An excerpt from the book by R. D. Laing/ Do you love me?

She: Do you love me?

He: Yes, I love you.

She: More than any other?

He: Yes, more than any other.

She: Say "I love you"

He: I love you.

She: Do you promise never to leave me?

He: I promise never to leave you, cross my heart and hope to die...(silence)

She: Do you love me?

So, what is love and how can we explain it?

For a long time, psychologist were not inclined to research the phenomenon of love, even though this work was in their field. Love was considered as an unserious and  inappropriate subject. In the field of empirical science, there is very little talk of love. Some scientists have provided their insights based on research. Let us see what they had to say.

Psychologists S. Peele and A. Brodsky

They expressed the concern mostly  due to the addictive properties of love, which is,  in their opinion, exhibited on Valentine’s Day. The addiction is shown in the increased tolerance and in the withdrawal syndrome (sweating, shaking,...), which occurs when two lovers are apart for a longer period.

Psychiatrist J. Wolpe

He believes that love is a kind of weakness, just like fear of snakes. According to him, emotional habits are resistant to any logical argument. What we learn on an emotional, primitive level, cannot presumably be controlled with our intellect – the higher brain functions.

What do the Darwinists think?

They stem from the fact that children require constant care and protection even after the age of ten. Nowadays, that takes even longer. When our ancestors still lived in uncomfortable caves, the child did not have the opportunity to develop into a mature person. This means that love is only an evolutionary device or as Somerset Maugham puts it, only a dirty trick, by which nature forces us to prolong the existence of our species.

What do other theorists say?

Famous psychologist Lawrence Casler said: "Love is an injustice, which happens to a person when sex is involved.” People have an inbuilt need for sexual stimulation, which the western puritan society has turned into a taboo. That is why we use love to rationalize our sexual needs. That this is in a way true was proven by the sexual revolution in the sixties and the seventies, which made the newer generations feel less shame about sexuality and reduced the need to equate sex and love. Sexuality is nowadays not seen as anything special to many people and they do it without any feelings of love.


Read more about sex and sexuality in our Lover's Guide.