Need your input on Love!

I’m writing a paper on the history of love, looking at traditional views and comparing it with the view of love through an adult attachment lens.

Here is a brief outline for my paper…

This paper will trace the origins of romantic love and attachment-related concepts throughout history, leading up to Darwin, Freud, Lorenz, and others. It will then describe how John Bowlby took these influences and conceptualized attachment theory, and how Mary Ainsworth subsequently validated Bowlby’s hypothesis through her research. The paper will then discuss why childhood attachment came first, what influenced Shaver and Hazan to join the concepts of attachment and romantic love in 1987, and how they put the ideas together. The subsequent boom in adult attachment research, how it has evolved in the last 20 years, and what has been validated by research will then be discussed. Next, the paper will explore alternative current views of adult love and how they compare with adult attachment theory. The different ways adult attachment concepts are being applied today will then be discussed: psychotherapy/couples therapy, interaction with the sexual behavior system, emotion. Finally, future directions for research and application of adult attachment theory will be discussed.

So, what do you think?

If you were to read 35 pages on the history of romantic love, what would you want to know?

About shenpa warrior

"Patience is not learned in safety." View all posts by shenpa warrior

9 responses to “Need your input on Love!

  • melissa

    hey, sometimes i read your blog, and our shared server is down at work now, so… anyway, my husband is an MFT (well, almost licensed) and i just like reading so i do think this would be an interesting book. here’s a few things that would interest me:

    1) may be out of scope, but i would like to know a little bit of science as well (aka natural history)–what part of the brain is responsible for love and maybe a little about evolution and maybe why a need for love developed or whether it is innate and some comparisons to other animals who do have monogamous relationships or appear to have love.

    2) what we can learn from the oldest written/told love stories and what patterns we see through the history of these stories.

    3) my husband studied pursuer-distancer relationships for his thesis, which i found very interesting. it is enough for a whole other book, i’m sure, but i am fascinated by the dance and pursuit of romantic love, how one can become addicted to pursuit and distancing and how attachment may help overcome the addiction??? the historical context of this would be very interesting to me.

    i’m sure there are more things but i need to attempt to find some work to do now.

  • Krystle


    Some ideas (that you’ve probably already thought of):

    1) I’m assuming you’ll have a “love across cultures” section, yes? That’s always good stuff.

    2) Case studies and anecdotes of historical figures are always interesting…I know Freud had some attachment issues (according to some historians).

    3) Hazan (she’s at Cornell) has written that Dismissive/Avoidant types often end up with Anxious/Fearful types – so, one partner is needy/clingy and one is never really emotionally available. Interestingly, these couples report being less happy than a secure-secure pairing, but aren’t significantly more likely to break up/divorce sooner. It’d be neat to read about the different possible combinations in a relationship and what those relationships might look like.

    Maybe one of these days we’ll get to converse, kid. Hope all is well!


  • AdamF

    Melissa – I like the science idea as well – as far as I know there are in fact certain emotional systems in the brain for love, desire, lust, procreation, etc. etc. I also like the idea of comparative psych – Some animals are obviously not monogamous, but some are (voles, for example), which is interesting. Regarding your second point, last week I ordered a book that I hope addresses some of the history. I may use the story of Adam and Eve, but I’m sure there is a LOT more out there that may be relevant. My intent is to show that despite traditional views of love throughout history, attachment concepts have always existed… 3- I never thought of it as an addiction, but it can certainly be near-impossible to get out of a pattern like that without help. I’m not sure about the historical context for it. Thanks for the comment!

    Krystle – Hi friend! 1-Great idea, and as soon as I read your comment I went looking through some of my books and found “The Anatomy of Dependence” by a Japanese psychiatrist… just reading a little it seems like an attachment-related concept, although the author doesn’t mention it, which is interesting… 2-that would be interesting… perhaps it would be too much, but I would like to see some famous person’s bio rewritten through the attachment lens. 3-A little place called Cornell? Have you heard of it? I like the idea of different combinations… and yes, when are we having lunch? We could meet up in Effingham! (Not kidding, that is a real town about in the middle).

  • Stephen M (Ethesis)

    I’m curious about the relationships that create the most happiness and how to shift a relationship around to that end state.

  • salt h2o

    It would be hard to write anything about Love I’d want to read so you’d have to have a lot of jokes.

  • adamf

    Hah, a little avoidant are we, Salty?

  • Steve

    Great coverage on the topic. I’m interested in the biology aspect of the brain here, as well as recent research on the heart’s neuronal interaction with the brain emotionally. It’s the second largest collection of neurons in the body, and the strongest transmitter of electrical energy in the body. So, it’s involved in communicating to every cell… My soapbox is that we must address what’s below the head as well. The other thing that sparks my curiosity is the relationship between cognition and mindfulness… Processing our good mental theories into the experience of love and transformation. There’s a part of the brain implicated for this…but, unfortunately, slips my memory at this moment…

  • Emily

    Hey, don’t know how far along you are with this project, but in terms of ‘oldest’ love stories you should read the Epic of Gilgamesh, both in terms of the bond between Gilgamesh and his friend/soulmate Enkidu, and also the interesting (though rather explicit) way Enkidu is ‘tamed’ from being a wild forest creature to being human. There is an excellent audio version, I copied the CDs awhile back and might still have them around somewhere.

  • adamf

    Great! I still have a week until I’m going to stop gathering sources, so this will be very helpful.


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