Love · Misconceptions · Psychology

Cathexis v/s love

Scott Peck, in his book- The Road Less Traveled, defines love in a very unique way. The definition he proposes is- Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth

Love is not Cathexis:

He introduces a term called ‘cathexis’. Cathexis is the act of investing mental or emotional energy in a person, object or idea. We can cathect many things: money, power, fame, a piece of jewellery, our pets, our hobbies, as well as other people. Scott beautifully describes how Cathexis is not love. Cathexis is attachment and investment in a person or thing. It may not involve any action on the part of the person who is cathecting. By action, I mean actions that prove the love for the other person. If you think that someone who treats you poorly or even abusively still “loves” you than the idea of love loses its meaning-these people may cathect with you, may be invested in and attached to you and think they love you, but real love requires more than feeling a certain way. There is a tendency in society to treat love as a mystical, indefinable thing prevents people from loving better, because they see it as some vague, almost supernatural force that they have no control over, rather than the result of cultivating a trusting, respectful relationship that involves a lot of work.

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 Love is not Dependency:

Peck also cautions about mistaking dependency – “the inability to experience wholeness or to function adequately without the certainty that one is being actively cared for by another” – for love:

“Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other… The only way to be assured of being loved is to be a person worthy of love, and you cannot be a person worthy of love when your primary goal in life is to passively be loved. This is not to say that passive dependent people never do things for others, but their motive in doing things is to cement the attachment of the others to them so as to assure their own care…

Allowing yourself to be dependent on another person is the worst possible thing you can do to yourself… If you expect another person to make you happy, you’ll be endlessly disappointed.”

Love is Work:

Love is not just a feeling. Love is action. True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision. This person has made a commitment to be loving whether or not the loving feeling is present. If it is, so much the better; but if it isn’t, the commitment to love, the will to love, still stands and is still exercised.Since love is work, the essence of non-love is laziness. This quote sums it up really well-  “Love is as love does”

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