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Simon, J. (1975). Love: Addiction or Road to Self-Realization?. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(4):359-364.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(4):359-364

Public Forum

Love: Addiction or Road to Self-Realization?

Jane Simon, M.D.

Love represents a major part of our personality and is not an isolated segment which may be functioning in a more or less healthy or neurotic way. An individual is likely in his love relationships to manifest many components of his personality. Our emphasis as therapists is not on the particular type of love or sexuality practiced, that is, heterosexuality or homosexuality, but on the personality problems expressed by the sexual or love relationship.

Addiction is the state of being addicted. The verb “addict” is defined by Webster's as “to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” In other words, people can become addicted to other people in the same way they become addicted to drugs.

A recent article in Psychology Today1 describes a young man, a physician, who lives in constant need of a woman's devotion. He approaches every eligible partner with a sense of weakness and desperation. When he finds a lover and begins to feel secure with her, he becomes manipulative and demanding. His demands increase. His needs are insatiable and finally destroy the relationship. Then he experiences withdrawal — sleepless nights, rapid heartbeat, muscle tightness, and alternating periods of lethargy and frenetic movement. He must find another lover who can fulfill these same needs. Until he does, his professional life suffers, and he is listless and detached with friends. These symptoms show that he is addicted. This same withdrawal phenomenon is described by Horney as the reaction to frustration,2 characteristic of a neurotic drive.

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