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Saul, L.J. (1950). The Distinction Between Loving and Being Loved. Psychoanal Q., 19:412-413.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:412-413

The Distinction Between Loving and Being Loved

Leon J. Saul, M.D.

Freud's conclusions as to the major forces in the human mind—in fact in all life—came finally to be dualistic. His original libido theory became subsumed in the concept of Eros, the life force, which operates to preserve and build up life, forming organic living matter, reproducing it, and bringing units together in social forms. Working against this life reproducing, preserving, spreading, amalgamating force, Freud saw Thanatos—the tendency to destroy life, through killing and through dying. These forces are usually mixed in reality: for example, hostile aggressive drives are used to kill for food or to master a sex object and so result at least in some part in furthering, preserving, and reproducing life. 'The wages of sin', said Cabell, 'is life'. Whatever the accuracy and implications of this formulation, certainly in everyday work the analyst deals with two forces which seem to supersede all others in power and significance for the entire existence of each patient. The one force is hostile aggression—impulses toward hate, cruelty, assault, violence. The other is the demand to be appreciated, helped, valued, praised, in a word, to be loved.

The distinction between the receptive, egocentrically directed, being loved, the need to be loved, as opposed to the active, giving loving, has not generally been made explicit. Freud repeatedly pointed out the importance of the need to be loved. In the case of Dora, he mentions, as he did repeatedly, the neurotic's exaggerated need for love. In The Dynamics of the Transference he shows the role of the intense unconscious longing and expectancy. In the Future of an Illusion he attributes an important source of religious faith to the persisting need in adults for the love, care, and protection of strong, omniscient parents. The importance of the centrifugal direction is implicit in the concept of oral dependence. Thus Freud saw this force clearly. But in his clinical writings he speaks chiefly of ways of loving, without explicitly making the distinction between loving and being loved. The need to be loved was the clue to Freud's Wolf-man, whose dramatic reaction and subsequent improvement dated from the moment Ruth Mack Brunswick pointed out to him that he did not in reality bask in Freud's love and favoritism.


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