Happy Valentine's Day 2018!
A personal note from Frederic Lowen and an excerpt from the forthcoming new edition of the classic book
Love & Orgasm by Alexander Lowen, M.D.
A Valentine from Frederic Lowen
For a day we celebrate our love for family, friends and lovers. On Valentine’s Day 2018 conflict and dysfunction trumps love, harmony, collaboration, and integration.
Conflicts between the sexes, the races, the haves and have-nots are stoked for the obscene enrichment of the few at immense cost to the many and to our future. Why does it only get worse and worse?
It is because our minds have dis-connected, or split from our bodies, and thereby from our ability to appropriately perceive and beneficially engage our world and relationships.
Our minds, driven by non-conscious fears, insecurities and past traumas seek the ego pleasures of control, status, and wealth. The body pleasures of feelings, grace, gratitude, and beneficial engagement and collaboration that is love is rarely practiced; and science is not equipped to consider the mind-body split, let alone investigate it. Science too is characterized by the mind-body split and dis-connection.
Conflicts between races, classes, and the sexes are constructs of our minds, collectively split and disconnected from our bodies, our relationships, and our world. Many social conflicts have their basis only in the widespread collective mind-body split. There is no natural incompatibility between men and women, the races, nations, or between the economy and the environment. These conflicts are completely fabrications of our collective neurosis, and the mind-body split is fundamental to neurosis.
Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, and Alexander Lowen, leaders of the psychodynamic approach to neurosis have all identified sexual dysfunction as fundamental to neurosis. Although this idea is widely denied and derided in this 21st Century, it is a visible fact that much social dysfunction directly or indirectly involves lack of sexual fulfillment, despite much sexual sophistication and activity.
This too, sexual sophistication and lack of sexual fulfillment is an expression of the mind-body split, where our mind’s cognitions distort, suppress, and interfere with the feelings of the body, and vice-versa. Whether it is guilt, dependence, romantic ideals, or a need to control, ideas of love too often interfere with sexuality; conversely, sexual activity demeans love. Too many hearts are closed, not even knowing.
It may be normal, but it is neurotic and unnecessary! Healing the mind-body split can reunite sexuality with our hearts. This renewed connection can lead to healthier, more fulfilling loving relationships in our personal lives and in our local and global communities.
Happy Valentine's Day!
An excerpt from the chapter Love and Sex
in the forthcoming new edition of the classic book
Love & Orgasm by Alexander Lowen, M.D.
Love as a psychological experience is an abstraction. By
this I mean that it is a feeling divorced from its appropriate
action, an anticipation that has not found its realization. It
has the same quality as a hope, a wish, or a dream. These
aspirations and sentiments are necessary to human existence.
The appreciation of love as a psychological phenomenon
must not blind one to the necessity of its fulfillment in action.
Love finds its reality in the pleasure and satisfaction of the
biological urge to embrace and unite. Romantic love is the
handmaiden of sexuality. It serves an important function.
Love increases the tension of sexual attraction. It does this
by placing a psychic distance between the lovers. This distance
is the heightened consciousness of the loved person.
Such heightened awareness of the other actually separates
two people. It defines their differences and accents their
individuality. The loved person is unique, never generic. The
saying, "Absence [distance] makes the heart grow fonder,"
may be interpreted to mean that the greater the love, the
greater the separation. This is where sex comes in. Sex has a
pleasure mechanism. It aims to eliminate the distance and to
discharge the tension, thereby producing pleasure. Since the
amount of pleasure is in direct proportion to the amount of
tension, as Freud pointed out, the more the love, the greater
the distance and the fuller the pleasure of the sexual union.
The change in the coital position from the rear approach
used by most mammals to the frontal approach used by most
men is significant in terms of the relation of love to sex. In
the face-to-face position, the awareness of the sexual partner
as an individual is extended and deepened. Each person can
more easily perceive the other's feelings. In this position, the
frontal surfaces of the body, which are the more sensitive
areas, are brought into physical contact. It is an interesting
speculation that this change in position may have made man
more conscious of the feeling of love.
The relationship between love and sex may be set forth as follows. Sex divorced from
its conscious correlates, that is, sex as an instinctual drive, obeys the pleasure principle. The buildup of sexual tension leads in such conditions to an immediate attempt to discharge the tension with the nearest available object. But when love enters the scene, the reality principle becomes operative. Knowing love, one is aware that the pleasure of the sexual discharge can be heightened by certain sexual objects and lowered by others. Knowing love, one tends to hold back the action, consciously restraining the discharge of the sexual tension until the most favorable situation is available, which is, of course, a loved person. The insistence upon selectivity and discrimination in the choice of a sexual object for greater sexual pleasure is one of the main functions of love. When one looks for a special object, one becomes more conscious of the object, more sensitive to love and to the love partner.
Love can be expressed spiritually or physically. One does not rule out the other. Normally the
two modes of expression are complementary. In a healthy person, the spiritual expression of love creates a tension that is discharged in some physical act of love. The pleasure that the latter yields increases consciousness and spirituality. One leads to the other and makes the other a more significant experience.