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Sperling, M.B. (1988). Phenomenology and Developmental Origins of Desperate Love. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 11(4):741-761.

(1988). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 11(4):741-761

Phenomenology and Developmental Origins of Desperate Love

Michael B. Sperling, Ph.D.

The prevalence of problematic human relationships, and in particular tumult in love relationships, is no matter of chance. Loving is a learned behavior that is far more difficult to master than is commonly acknowledged, yet which is necessary if man is to overcome his essential separateness from man or, as Erich Fromm (1956) puts it, “to leave the prison of his aloneness.” Fromm refers to loving as an art, commenting, “Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one's capacity to love” (p. 1). It is precisely this underlying capacity to love, in addition to the phenomenology of the enactment of this capacity, that is germane to a discussion of why some people tend to experience a quality of desperation in adult love relations.

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