Whats Love Got To Do With It?

There is a general principle in physics called the “observer effect” which asserts that trying to objectively measure something cant really be done without it affecting the system or object to be measured. That sounds like a very frustrating scientific principle to me (like trying to shoot arrows at a moving target that appears, disappears, and then morphs into different shapes when you attempt to focus in on it). I suspect the observer effect applies to talking about or trying to measure this crazy thing called love.
After 35 years as a Clinical Psychologist and certified sex and marriage therapist, I can attest to the elusiveness of love as a scientific concept. So to is the difficulty involved in measuring or mathematically capturing love’s fundamental “essence”. I have referred to love as the “Bigfoot” of empirical constructs. In fact, trying to nail down a concise or all-inclusive definition for love (something that we all seem to know and desire but very few people ever fully master or perfect) is probably futile. ON a personal note I find it ironic and somewhat embarrassing that I’ve given dozens of lectures on the subject, counseled hundreds of people in sex and marital therapy and yet must admit to being a 60 year old divorced guy who still puzzles at how some people do it (manage to both feel and express love) and continue to do so throughout their lives. This is especially true about extraordinary compassionate and loving individuals like the Dalai Lama. Therapeutically speaking, sex problems are usually a piece of cake compared to love problems.
As for the “observer effect”, just by being asked to think about and share my perspective on love I assume it will alter my viewpoint and change my thinking, maybe even my innermost feelings. Like listening to music or reading a poem, talking about love has a way of calling forth deeper emotions, old memories, and a symphony of images, smells, tastes, and romantic and/or erotic personal experiences…. particularly if you are over 14 years old and have a beating heart. For example, most of us can remember the specific music or songs we associate with being in love for the first time. Speaking of beating hearts, there has always been an intimate connection even in vastly different cultures between feeling “in love” and ones rapidly beating heart (that is not due to some preexisting cardiac condition or generalized anxiety disorder). True to its dualistic nature, getting ones heart “broken” by someone you love is similarly viewed by many cultures at various times in history as part of love’s ubiquitous and bittersweet legacy. Thus, to lose love is almost as potent and wholly unforgettable as realizing that one has fallen in love. To not talk about love in a passionate and personal way is to take reductionism and scientific empiricism to an absurd level, like what the pioneer sex therapists Masters and Johnson first attempted to do with human sexuality with their bright white lab coats and measuring instruments. If you know anything about it or watched the popular HBO series then you know what it got them… divorced like me.
The point is that when it comes to love, I’m more interested in whole systems and synergy among its transacting parts not pure statistics. I care more about useful notions with everyday applications and not complex psychiatric diagnoses or research concepts that nobody can relate to. The real point and the critical question is what does it take to open ones passionate and vulnerable heart to another passionate and vulnerable human being and then generate (and continue to generate in reciprocal fashion) authentic love towards self and “other”? Ironically, to a child it may take no real effort or conscious thought process as many children seem capable of feeling and expressing love spontaneously. How and why then have so many of us “adults” forgotten how to do what we once did naturally and without having to read a dozen books about it? Unlike sex, I doubt there will ever be a little blue Viagra pill for love or phone app for that.
One Interesting Approach: Based on a popular series of talks given by renowned Kabbalist Yehuda Berg, Kabbalah on Love offers a simple yet profound message: love is not something that is primarily learned or acquired, but an essence within, waiting to be revealed. Buried by layers of personal ego, fear, shame, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and other ingrained limitations, mature love can only be activated by sharing self fully (including ones vulnerable parts) and serving others unconditionally. Only then will the outside layers fall away and the essence of love reveal itself. Berg makes the distinction between love and emotional neediness, overdependence, or relationship addiction — which he sees as more self-centered byproducts of human ego — and reminds us that only after connecting with the “greater” love within (essence of God) and learning to love our own true (whole) selves can we truly love someone else. Unfortunately, many divorces result from marriage partners who (due to their upbringing, cultural influences and unrealistic romantic ideals) sought “completion” in their spouse rather than first recognizing the need to  achieve wholeness in themselves.
The Love Song in My Head:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QZjJU-mtFU

About captaincliff

Psychologist by day, insomniac Pirate blogger by night, this Child of God likes to share sarcastic social commentary as well as topsy-turvy observations about life, love and the pursuit of zaniness, a functional form of insanity in an increasingly insane world
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