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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: Sex, Lies, Love & Psychology

Last night I saw +EmmyLou Harris and +Rodney Crowell at +Lincoln Center Concert Halls Out Of Doors. It was one of the best concerts I have seen all year! If you live near NYC make some time this weekend for their Americana festival events including performances by #Cassandra Wilson on Friday, +Rosanne Cash & +Buddy Miller on Saturday and another great line up on Sunday. If you live farther away the shows are being streamed live online, so go to #LCOutOfDoors to check out how to see the concerts. Have a great weekend!

Here's the trivia question:
Thought for the Day: Today I am sharing a Trivia question from a post I wrote a year ago: Sex, Lies, Love and Psychology. I have made some changes, by adding some thought provoking questions about love and hope this will raise some discussion about not just sex education, but love education. Here's the question:
       Psychologists believe that love is:
               a) a biological phenomenon
               b) a learned behavior
               c) a motivational drive
               d) a social phenomenon
               e) a basic emotion
               f) a) & d)
               g) b) & d)
What do you think? Is this just trivia or could the answer be important for the mental health of our society?

     First, I must admit that the post is not about sex and lies, but about love & psychology. I simply liked the sound of the title & hoped it would make people curious to read the post. My second admission, will be no surprise to those of you following this trivia series. Since I already told you that I dislike multiple choice questions, if you had trouble choosing an answer, it may be my fault. I thought about adding another possible answer, but thought it would make the quiz too easy. An added option would have been: 
             h) a), b), c), d) & e)
Therefore, h) is the actual answer. 
     Psychologists understand & explain love in multiple ways. Eric Fromm, author of The Art of Loving, is a proponent of love as a learned behavior. He wrote that, "... love is a learned skill, not something that comes from hormones or emotion." Fromm called it "an act of will... If you don't learn the skills of love you virtually guarantee that you will be depressed, not only because you will not be connected enough but because you will have many failure experiences." (1) 
     If Fromm is right, love is a learned skill which is essential to happiness. If not learning to love is a predictor of depression, should we be teaching our children about love not only in our homes but also in our schools? We offer sex education to adolescents. Are we missing the mark by not incorporating lessons about love and caring relationships throughout our children's education? Are love lessons as important or even more important than lessons about birth control and responsible parenting for our children's future mental health and happiness?
     On the question of whether love is biological or a cultural phenomenon, in an article called, What Is Love?, on Guide , concludes that "If love were a purely cultural invention, it would stand to reason that love would simply not exist in some cultures. However, anthropological research suggests that love is a universal emotion. Love is most likely influenced by both biological drives and cultural influences. While hormones and biology are important, the ways we express and experience this emotion are influenced by our personal conceptions of love." 
     If love is both a biological and a cultural phenomenon influenced by our personal conceptions, can our conceptions be altered to be more realistic and thereby improve our ability to form long lasting loving relationships? Can adults be taught to love better?
     Dr. Daniel G. Amen, psychiatrist & author, (whom I met when he opened a clinic recently in NYC) believes that romantic love is purely a motivational drive. In his book, The Brain in Love: 12 Lessons to Enhance Your Love Life, he says “that romantic love and infatuation are not so much of an emotion as they are motivational drives that are part of the brain's reward system.” (2) According to his theory love is a motivational drive which can it be directed and enhanced. What are the implications of this theory on the treatment of sexual abuse or on reducing the rate of divorce?
     There are several theories proposed by psychologists dividing love into several key elements. Psychologist Zick Rubin proposed three elements: attachment, the need to receive care, approval & physical contact; caring, valuing another's needs & happiness as much as your own; and intimacy, sharing thoughts, desires & feelings with the other person. (3) This theory seems to divide love into parts that are related to learned behaviors. Could we teach people ways to become better lovers by developing these traits?
     In The Colors of Love (1973), John Lee compared styles of love to a color wheel.The various combinations act like like the three primary colors. The combinations of the types of love lead to various shades of relationships. Using this color wheel theory he comes up with this pallet of six styles of loving relationships:
  • "Three primary styles:
    1. Eros – Loving an ideal person
    2. Ludos – Love as a game
    3. Storge – Love as friendship

  • Three secondary styles:
    1. Mania (Eros + Ludos) – Obsessive love
    2. Pragma (Ludos + Storge) – Realistic and practical love
    3. Agape (Eros + Storge) – Selfless love" (3)
     Could talking about the colors of love help people learn to love better and reach higher levels of intimacy? Whose responsibility is it to teach our children about love? In a society where divorce rates are 50% or higher, are we neglecting this important element in the educational process. Could lessons in love help reduce bullying in our schools and society and reduce the rates of depression and alienation?

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on these theories. Do you think we should be teaching love lessons in our schools?

     To learn more about these & other ways psychologists to try to explain love, here are some articles I used to help understand this complex phenomenon. I hope you will come back tomorrow for Friday's Fabulous Finds.

(1) ) On the question of whether love is biological  
(2) From 

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