What is Love?

Romance stories influence our notions of desire, sexuality, pornography, our body, our intimate relationships

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What is love? Group analysts have as much difficulty in defining this protean concept as members in our groups. We often hear romantic clichés that life without love is not worth living and that we should marry for love alone. We are told that ‘love is blind’ and love affairs, whilst exciting, are seldom without tears, disappointment and goodbyes. Romantic love is depicted as mysterious, madness, and Freud paired it with depression. In psychoanalytic literature, love appears as Eros, instinct, or affect. Love and its expressions are often directed by the concept and problem of transference. Love is a displacement: I love someone or fall in love because I love someone else. The pain and ecstasy of love are felt, and need to be thwarted or denied. Only to flare up, when Cupid’s[i] (the Roman god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection) arrow strikes, and we are filled with uncontrollable desire. So potent is the romantic ideal that it is spreading worldwide and is found in many cultures. Sales of romance stories and films are at record highs. They influence our intimate relationships, our notions of desire, sexuality, pornography, our body and selves.

[i] In Greek mythology, Eros, the God of sexual attraction, is the counterpart of the Roman Cupid.

Dr Susanne Vosmer

Clinical Psychologist & Psychotherapist. Mental Health, Relationships, Love & Sexuality.