To Love Is...
Excerpts from "A Guide to Psychology & its Practice" - Sexuality & Love
by Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond, PhD
philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas said that “To love is to will the
good of another.” So if you think about it, all the moral
decisions about marriage and family actually derive psychologically from love—
Real Love , not the “love” of
popular fantasy. Infidelity, contraception, abortion, divorce, and even
stem-cell research, all defile love through a focus on personal pleasure and
convenience, at the expense of the dignity—and even the life—of another human
contemporary culture tends to think of “love” as a way to find personal
fulfillment in life. That
is, each person in a relationship expects the other to fill up the existential
void in his or her life. Ultimately, this is impossible, and so when there are
problems, the conflicts are usually about one partner complaining of not getting
what he or she wants. In this situation, only one psychological solution can be
possible: Take responsibility for your own life satisfaction. True love is about
giving, not receiving. If you’re mainly concerned about getting pleasure or
security, you’re being selfish, not loving.”
What is “truly sought” is
something we all experience as painfully missing from life: some comforting
sense of absolute belonging and acceptance.
French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, points out that although love—as
commonly conceived—is, in essence, a futile chasing after something that doesn’t
exist, there is nevertheless a love beyond this “making love,” a love
that exists beyond lack and limitation and that involves a sort of ecstasy of
being. The irony is that in making love we think we know what we want, but it
turns out to be an illusion, while this other love touches on a real experience
of which we know nothing. It’s a mystical sort of thing, as Lacan
don’t realize this, but the common, or popular, view of love involves an element
of receiving something. “I love chocolate” really means that “I enjoy getting
the experience of the taste of chocolate.” Similarly, “I love you” commonly
implies “I enjoy touching your body,” or “I enjoy believing that you will give
me security or protection,” or “I enjoy having sex with you” (or “I want to have
sex with you"). As a result, Lacan, in his teachings about love, described
the typical act of love as “polymorphous perversion.”
Don’t be put off
by the big words. You already know what perversion means. Polymorphous simply
means “having many forms.” So this amounts to saying, like the popular song from
the 1980s, that we’re looking for love in all the wrong places. That is, we
look for satisfaction in all the various titillating parts of the body but never
find what is truly sought.
Lacan doesn’t say it this way, the difference between these two kinds of love
can be conceived of as the difference between receiving and giving. It’s why
St. Francis of Assisi was led—led right to the point, actually—to pray that he
might seek “not so much to be loved as to love.”
As shocking as it might sound, most of us who claim to be “giving” or “loving” are not giving selflessly. Instead, we are addressing a covert psychological desire to avoid being abandoned. Sad to say, the apparent generosity is more an act of bribery than of love.
"And so here is the psychological lesson: As long as you pursue sexuality out of a need to be loved—as a form of something you want—you will be led right behind illusions straight into perversion. Only a renunciation of what you think you want and a dedication to loving rather than being loved can lead to anything productive, and it’s the only attitude that can begin to carry you through the agony of human limitation and mortality.
I’ll be honest
here and say that this view is not at all popular in the U.S., and especially
not in San Francisco. But I can say confidently that the surest way to prove me
right is to try to prove me wrong. So go ahead and chase after perversion, and
see for yourself if you don’t find anything, in the end, but emptiness.
It is interesting
to note that a religious perspective can be even more focused than the
psychological perspective. It has long been understood that chastity is a core
aspect of religious experience. Sexuality, after all, is not a recreational
sport. It is grounded in the concept of a man and a woman joining their lives
together in order to form a family. Severed from the family, the sexual desire
for “recognition” in another person—arising from the contemporary social
pressure for every individual to be in a “relationship”—amounts to nothing but a
narcissistic renunciation of love itself.
Think about that.
Are you tired of AIDS, sexual diseases, prostitution, pornography, unwanted
pregnancies, abortion, adultery, divorce, and using others and being used? All
great religious mystics have discovered for themselves the same secret: until
you stop being obsessed with getting sexual pleasure you will never be able to
find true spirituality; until you stop insisting that God accept your sexual
perversions before you can accept God, you will never truly know God; until you
stop looking for yourself in the desire of others, you will never find God;
until you die to yourself—and your selfish desires—you will never have life.
But regardless of whether you approach the matter from moral theology or from the psychology of the unconscious, you will discover that the final choice in regard to sexuality is really between glorifying yourself and glorifying something greater than yourself. So take consolation and remember—if you only partially apply this principle to your life you will still experience great psychological benefits."
Link to the full article: http://www.guidetopsychology.com/sex_love.htm
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