Is that what love is really for, to lend us a new conception of ourselves?
It would be unforgiveable to write a book on the psychology of emotions without spending some time talking about perhaps the most compelling and sought-after emotional state of all. An excellent and entertaining review is provided by Frank Tallis's (2004) book Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness. Although we would disagree with Frank Tallis's fundamental thesis that love should be seen as a mental illness, in the same way that people can experience panic attacks and other passionate states without being ill, we concur that at the extremes and under certain circumstances, love sickness can drive a person to despair. We will return to disorders of love subsequently, but first we consider love in all its glorious beauty.
Any trip to the popular psychology shelves of the local book shop will reveal the central place that love, intimacy, and attachment have in our emotional lives. However, along with a host of books on how to fall in love and how to love the same person for the whole of your life, we are also invited to browse books on women who love too much or pathological love or erotomania or whatever. Such a cursory content analysis of the book shelves raises a number of interesting questions: Is there just one type of love? Is the love that we feel when we love someone for the whole of our lives the same as the love we yearn for when we are trying to fall in love? Is the person who is seen as "loving too much", or loves "pathologically", just choosing the "wrong" partners or is he somehow loving in the "wrong" way? We will endeavour to delve into some of these mysteries of love and offer some thoughts as to how different aspects of love might be conceptualised. Embarking on such an exercise, it is well to bear in mind Valéry's caveat (cited in Rilke, 1986) to aspiring poets: "that in the making of a work an act comes into contact with the indefinable".
Several researchers have proposed typologies for the varieties of love. These typologies typically start with the distinct systems based on the sexual drive and on the attachment system and how they may (or may not!) be combined into the one relationship. The modern Western ideal of romantic love and courtship attempts to fuse these two distinct systems following the rules set out in The Art of Courtly Love written in the twelfth century by Andreas Capellanus (1185) with instructions on how knights should behave towards noble ladies (see Tallis, 2004). Hatfield and Rapson (1993) contend that two kinds of love can be distinguished: passionate love (sometimes called obsessive love, infatuation, love sickness, or being in love) and companionate love (sometimes called fondness). Other researchers have been more elaborate; for example, Lee (e.g., 1976) described six love styles: Eros (romantic love), Ludus (game-playing love), Storge (friendship love), Mania (possessive love), Pragma (logical love), and Agape (selfless love). In tandem with these taxonomies, a number of questionnaire measures of love have been developed; for example, the Passionate Love Scale (Hatfield & Sprecher, 1986) and the Love Style Questionnaire (e.g., Mal-landain & Davies, 1994).
One influential theory of love has been Sternberg's (1986, 1988) so-called triangular theory (see Figure 10.1). Sternberg proposed that there are three key dimen-
sions involved in love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Different combinations of these three dimensions lead to different types of love: for example, romantic love is the combination of intimacy plus passion; companionate love is intimacy plus commitment; and consummate love is intimacy plus passion plus commitment. Again, Sternberg's passion dimension maps onto the sexual drive, and intimacy and commitment map onto the attachment system. In this section, therefore, we shall talk briefly about passionate love, which we equate with Lee's concept of Eros and which we see as the emotion system's incorporation of the sex drive, and in more detail about companionate love, which we equate with Lee's concept of Storge, and which we see as primarily based on the attachment system. Finally, we shall touch on varieties of so-called pathological love, some of which are related to Lee's other love styles.
Was this article helpful?