Fighting Fear

Confronting phobias and other fears

An Appreciation of Romantic Love

It is a matter of perspective

A personal defence.

I have been writing about love on this blog. I am interested in how love develops and then recedes, or transforms into something else. There are the real phenomena of love at first sight, unrequited love, love in the very young and the very old, love as portrayed in novels, and, taken all together, love as a psychological phenomenon—a scientific phenomenon, that is, the sort of thing that one can think about objectively. Apparently, some people regard such a matter-of-fact consideration of love as evidence of an insensitivity of some sort. Similar things are said about those psychologists who write about humor or beauty. Examining a joke to find out what makes it funny spoils the joke. Similarly, reporting on the chemicals that make a rose smell the way it does and take on the colors that it does seems to suggest an inability to respond emotionally to the fact of the rose itself—to the aesthetic appreciation of the rose. To its meaning as something given by one person to another.

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Someone I know went so far as to suggest that my interest in the comings and goings of love and the suddenness of love indicates that I have missed the point. Perhaps, he suggested with a smile, I have trouble recognizing and describing real love. Putting aside the personal innuendo in that remark, I feel that I can describe romantic love in those terms that appeal especially to the romantic mind—to the “young at heart.” In support of this, I quote below from my novel “The Wicked Son.” Lila, a Princess of the Arid Wastes, is addressing a young man of short acquaintance whom she loves. He is listening from the other side of a locked bathroom door.

“…Our love, yours and mine, is altogether of another length and breadth, not the final wearing away through long usage of a peg of any shape so that it fits into a hole of any other shape, not the comfortable slack of an old pillow or the slow dribble into sleep that comes in a lukewarm bath, not the toothless smile of an old dodder for the old twat who wipes him free of the gruel which drips down his chin. Out love is the lightning which sparks between the clouds with a great thunder and wind. It requires no time to mature, as if it were a chick hatching from an egg. It is there, all at a time, lighting up the sky for everyone to see. Our love is the way the heavens cleave to the earth and the way the waters of the oceans join and mix. It is elemental, monumental, firmamental and transcendental, and that is just the way it ought to be…

“There are things I know. I have dreamed them, since anything which is done must first be dreamed. Even our destinies live now as a cloudy dream in God’s mind. I know of our love for each other, more clearly than I know that my hands are mine or that I breathe. And I know that you are going to take me home and with your skill make the land fertile, and make me fertile, and live with me, happily forever after.”

Of course, that is fiction. 

(c) Fredric Neuman.  Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredricneumanmd.com/blog/ or ask questions at fredricneumanmd.com/blog/ask-dr-neuman-advice-column/

Fredric Neuman, M.D. is the Director of the Anxiety and Phobia Center at White Plains Hospital.

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