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The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm Read Online (FREE)

It is interesting to compare the concepts of Freud, which correspond to the spirit of capitalism as it existed, yet unbroken, around the beginning of this century, with the theoretical concepts of one of the most brilliant contemporary psychoanalysts, the late H. S. Sullivan. In Sullivan’s psychoanalytic system we find, in contrast to Freud’s, a strict division between sexuality and love.

What is the meaning of love and intimacy in Sullivan’s concept? “Intimacy is that type of situation involving two people which permits validation of all components of personal worth. Validation of personal worth requires a type of relationship which I call collaboration, by which I mean clearly formulated adjustments of one’s behavior to the expressed needs of the other person in pursuit of increasingly identical—that is, more and more nearly mutual satisfactions, and in the maintenance of increasingly similar security operations.”[28] If we free Sullivan’s statement from its somewhat involved language, the essence of love is seen in a situation of collaboration, in which two people feel: “We play according to the rules of the game to preserve our prestige and feeling of superiority and merit.”[29]

Just as Freud’s concept of love is a description of the experience of the patriarchal male in terms of nineteenth-century capitalism, Sullivan’s description refers to the experience of the alienated, marketing personality of the twentieth century. It is a description of an “egotism à deux,” of two people pooling their common interests, and standing together against a hostile and alienated world. Actually his definition of intimacy is in principle valid for the feeling of any cooperating team, in which everybody “adjusts his behavior to the expressed needs of the other person in the pursuit of common aims” (it is remarkable that Sullivan speaks here of expressed needs, when the least one could say about love is that it implies a reaction to unexpressed needs between two people).

Love as mutual sexual satisfaction, and love as “teamwork” and as a haven from aloneness, are the two “normal” forms of the disintegration of love in modern Western society, the socially patterned pathology of love. There are many individualized forms of the pathology of love, which result in conscious suffering and which are considered neurotic by psychiatrists and an increasing number of laymen alike. Some of the more frequent ones are briefly described in the following examples.

The basic condition for neurotic love lies in the fact that one or both of the “lovers” have remained attached to the figure of a parent, and transfer the feelings, expectations and fears one once had toward father or mother to the loved person in adult life; the persons involved have never emerged from a pattern of infantile relatedness, and seek for this pattern in their affective demands in adult life. In these cases, the person has remained, affectively, a child of two, or of five, or of twelve, while intellectually and socially he is on the level of his chronological age. In the more severe cases, this emotional immaturity leads to disturbances in his social effectiveness; in the less severe ones, the conflict is limited to the sphere of intimate personal relationships.