Introduction: The passions of the lovestruck and lovesick are popular literary themes. Among them, none is more memorable than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Lovestruck Romeo: "See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek." Lovestruck Juliet: “Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow." Romeo compares Juliet to the sun: “…brighter than a torch,” “a jewel sparkling in the night,” “an angel among dark clouds.” Juliet sees Romeo as “day in night,” and “whiter than snow on a raven’s back.” Doomed by family feuds beyond their control, lovesick Romeo concludes: "A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents," and the lovesick pair take their own lives. Shakespeare ends with: "For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
Ancient medicine took an interest in the subject: the physician Avicenna, over a thousand years ago, observed how the lovestruck suffered from intense romantic love. He viewed the “broken heart” of lovesickness as an illness in response to unrequited love. Medicine then classified lovesickness as melancholia induced by intense and unfulfilled romantic or erotic desire.
Who hasn’t known the “crush” of the lovestruck? It can become “puppy love,” “erotic love,” “mature love,” or even “true love, and in most cases without the “broken heart” of lovesickness. The mentally challenged are less fortunate. One might ask, why hasn’t the profession of psychology taken lovesickness more seriously, given its association with wet hands, dry mouth, insomnia, loss of appetite, rapid heart rate, confusion, awkward behavior, sexual addiction, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behavior, and even suicide?
Lovestruck: As literary metaphor, lovestruck implies falling in love with great speed and intensity. Falling in love is common to both the lovestruck and the lovesick. What is “falling in love?” Sigmund Freud believed it is more perception than reality. This is to say, falling in love is falling for make-believe. Do you agree? Do you think the fragility of falling in love renders it vulnerable to the passions of the lovestruck and lovesick? See Love and Emotional Intelligence Blog.
Lovesick: Lovesickness is not an official diagnosis. It is the intense emotional consequence of falling in love…for the wrong reasons; such as the unconscious “use” of another person to work-through the unfinished business of one’s problems in living. Most agree lovesickness is a dead-end that puts true love beyond reach. In keeping with ancient wisdom, Sigmund Freud regarded lovesickness as mental illness that involved compelling illusions. Given our current understanding, this assessment is not surprising. We are more aware of how low self-esteem and intimacy phobia, not to mention alcoholism and substance abuse, can sabotage love, and prevent one from enjoying what French novelist George Sand (1804-1876) meant by “there is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.” Such sentiments celebrate true love and hint at the values that make it possible.
The Axiology of Love: Speaking of values, there is the more formal approach of value science and axiological psychology which focus on values. This approach builds on Abraham’s Maslow’s (1908-1970) hierarchy of needs involving values, and the proliferation of more values until they collapse forming three cognitive dimensions dedicated to values and valuations. Robert Hartman (1910-1973) called them the hierarchy of values. He gave them technical names, but for our purpose we shall know them as Feeler (F), Doer (D) and Thinker (T) dimensions of value.
The dynamism (energy) of these dimensions results in a general capacity to value which interacts with genetic temperament to produce a general capacity to love and be loved. Most of us are imperfect evaluators of self and others, but “garden variety” imperfections don’t “kill” love. It is how we handle them that can “kill” love. Those with either an undeveloped (Primary) or diminished (Secondary) capacity to value are more likely to engage in the evil of psychopathic behavior. Remember, we are prisoners of our values and values have direct emotional and behavioral consequences.
One’s general capacity to value can be measured with the “rubber ruler” of valuemetrics. Its descriptive and predictive powers are proven in the pages of The New Science of Axiological Psychology. This assessment of how we organize and use core values is employed by some psychologists and many business consultants. Invoking an “optical metaphor,” individuals vary in degrees of “value-acuity,” “value-astigmatism,” and “value-blindness.” Drawing upon an “audio metaphor,” we can say that true love depends on getting the “pitch,” “tone,” and “harmony” of our value dimensions right. This is especially true of the Feeler (F) dimension which enables perception of the individuality and uniqueness of others, including ourselves. This is a good thing. It helps avoid narcissism and the tendency to devalue persons as things. It favors the discovery of true love beyond the “fog” of falling in love, while avoiding the cul-de-sac of lovesickness. Sadly, some individuals are developmentally and/or defensively handicapped in one or more value dimensions. See: Killing Ego to Kill Evil and Love and Emotional Intelligence
Conclusions: Axiological psychology is founded on three pillars of structural and functional values making up the Hierarchy of Values. It holds that a science of psychology must build upon two systems of science (i.e., new axiological science and old natural science) in recognition of values in a world of facts. Our “audio metaphor” of “pitch,” “tone,” and “harmony” of value dimensions refers to the sensitivity, balance, order-of-importance, and plasticity of these dimensions making up the hierarchy of values. They contribute to the architecture of the “puppeteer mind” pulling the strings of the “puppet brain” which enables the experience of true love, and all that makes us human.
Do you think that today’s divorce statistics point to how easy it is to mess up falling in love? Does the Feeler (F) dimension always rule in love? There are situations in which the Doer (D) brings flowers to his or her lover. There are situations in which the Thinker (T) dreams up a sonnet to his or her lover. Striking the right pitch, tone and harmony among these dimensions can work like a ballet to produce the desired outcome befitting the experience of true love.
The Feeler (F) dimension rules by virtue of evolution, yet its strength is never absolute and must not be taken for granted. The cultivation of this “empathic dimension” of cognition falls to parenting, society, and the individual. It is also influenced by Doer (D) and Thinker (T) ways of seeing and acting with values. In practice, finding true love is easier for those on friendly terms with their Feeler (F), Doer (D) and Thinker (T) selves. It is also easier for those who listen with the “third ear,” the “axiological ear” that listens to what people don’t say. It is Feeler (F) sensitivity that stands to benefit most from moral education made possible by advances in axiological psychology and science. I find the following short poem by Victor Rodriguez expresses a sensitivity to human individuality and uniqueness that is the essence of Feeler (F) consciousness in general and true love in particular:
There is a dime a dozen...
Then there is one in a million...
But baby, you are once in a lifetime
Our goal must be true love without sexual exploitation (i.e., treating another person as a “thing” to be manipulated for personal gain), without intimacy phobias (i.e., fear of emotional closeness and personal disclosure), without validation issues (i.e., the compelling need to seek approval and acceptance in order to feel good about oneself which amounts to building contingent self-esteem instead of much healthier self-acceptance), and without terminal lovesickness (i.e., loving for the wrong reasons).
© Dr. Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D.
Those wanting an introduction to axiological science and psychology may want to read Robert Hartman’s autobiographical book entitled Freedom to Live. It can be obtained from http://www.hartmaninstitute.org/ which is republishing it for wider distribution