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Richardson, H.B. (1956). Love and the Psychodynamics of Adaptation. Psychoanal. Rev., 43(3):337-347.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Review, 43(3):337-347

Love and the Psychodynamics of Adaptation

Henry B. Richardson, M.D.

The purpose of this paper is to explore one aspect of the psychodynamic theory of adaptation of Rado (15) and its orientation toward pleasure (17). Pleasure is a form of emotion and is often related to other emotions. The basic emotion to which it is related is love. The thesis of this paper is that any process of psychodynamic adaptation is based fundamentally on the desire and need for the love of another person; love by, for, and with another person. This love may take a variety of forms and refer to one person, more than one person, or a cultural group, but the motive remains basically the desire and need for love.

To elaborate this point a little further: When a person adapts in a psycho-dynamic sense, he adapts to some emotion in order to feel some other emotion. If he seeks pleasure, he adapts to something in order to feel the pleasure. The emotion to which he adapts, as is well known, is fear or some derivative of fear. He adapts, in fact, to a special form of fear, known to psychiatrists as anxiety; or if not to conscious anxiety, to the threat of this, or to some substitute for anxiety. The same question as to the underlying emotion arises as to the pleasure which he seeks. If he wants pleasure, then what is the emotion with which he associates pleasure? It is hard to think of pleasure without thinking of the participation of some other person. Sexually it requires another person, even if the partner exists only in a masturbatory fancy. At the other extreme of pleasure, for instance the fine arts, one can hardly conceive of a person painting, composing music, or writing, without the idea of communicating ultimately with an audience in some form.

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