Freud’s ‘Conditions of Love’
by Aakriti Pasricha
A few days back, my fascination for psychology had reached such peaks that I googled almost everything that was not mentioned in our text books. From the psychology of spiritual groups and leaders to the psychology of boredom; from hatred to love- I read about everything. It was so absorbing that every page drove my curious eyes towards another page till they couldn’t take it anymore. This was the time when I googled one of the most interesting things ever- the psychology of love. No, it’s not as lame as the things they talk about in the movies, there are empirical theories that are a lot many times more interesting than what you imagine right now. This is when I came across what Freud had to say about Love. FREUD and LOVE! Who can resist such an interesting combination?
In ‘A Special Type of Choice of Object Made by Men’ (1910) Freud draws from neurotic men in psychoanalysis, though he observes the same behavior in “ordinary healthy people or even in people withexceptional qualities.” Freud theorizes that there are four essential conditions that must be met for love: the need for an injured third party, lose morals, overvaluing the women and rescuing the beloved.
He says, “One never chooses as an object of love a woman who is unattached, that is, a girl or an independent woman, but only one whom another man has some right of possession, whether husband, betrothed, or near friend. In some cases…a given woman can be ignored or even treated with contempt so long as she belongs to no other man, but instantly becomes the object of feelings of love as soon as she comes into a relationship of the kind described with another man.
For him, a “virtuous and reputable” woman is never charming enough to be the object of love. The second condition is that the woman’s “fidelity and loyalty admit of some doubt.” This is a compulsion that they are the “only ones it is possible to love.” Passionate attachments of this type of relationship occur repeatedly with one woman replaced by another. The man is consumed by the woman, and she will “absorb the whole of their mental energies, to the exclusion of all other interests.Reflecting the last condition of love: rescuing the beloved, he concludes that “The man must be convinced that the loved woman has need of him, that without him she would lose all hold on respectability and rapidly sink to a deplorable level.” Her fate is in his hands, and he saves or rescues her by “not letting her go.”
In a nutshell, Freud claims that independent, single women with strong morals are more often than not, not attractive to men. (I’m suddenly feeling less attractive!) And though it is tempting for me, as a woman, to thrash the above statements with all my heart and soul, I really believe that men would be better judges of whether these stand true in present context or not.
What I would like to comment on is the kind of men Freud mentions here. Are these men with a rather low self esteem that they need a woman to feel needed? Are these men with rather questionable morals,since they feel the need for an ‘injured third party’ to feel attracted to women? Are these men but craving the excitement of a love affair to feel worthy, morals for liking a woman who is unavailable?
For in the end, does it even matter if men are attracted to you, when they are not the kind you are attracted to?
Looking deeper into the ‘conditions’ given by Freud, understanding the psyche of the men who would rather fall in love under such circumstances, I’d like to say that I’d rather be single then. I’d rather have my independence, and my morals and my goals; for who wants men as messed up as that?