A General Theory of Love

Thomas Lewis, Author, Richard Lannon, Joint Author, Fari Amini, Joint Author
Thomas Lewis, Author, Richard Lannon, Joint Author, Fari Amini, Joint Author Random House (NY) $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-50389-4
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-375-70922-7
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The Beatles may have sounded naive when they assured us that ""all you need is love,"" but they may not have been far off the mark. New research in brain function has proven that love is a human necessity; its absence damages not only individuals, but our whole society. In this stimulating work, psychiatrists Lewis, Amini and Lannon explain how and why our brains have evolved to require consistent bonding and nurturing. They contend that close emotional connections actually change neural patterns in those who engage in them, affecting our sense of self and making empathy and socialization possible. Indeed, the authors insist, ""in some important ways, people cannot be stable on their own."" Yet American society is structured to frustrate emotional health, they contend: self-sufficiency and materialistic goals are seen as great virtues, while emotional dependence is considered a weakness. Because our culture does not sufficiently value interpersonal relationships, we are plagued by anxiety and depression, narcissism and superficiality, which can lead to violence and self-destructive behaviors. It is futile to try to think our way out of such behaviors, the authors believe, because emotions are not within the intellect's domain. What is needed is healthy bonding from infancy; when this does not occur, the therapist must model it. The authors' utopian vision of emotional health may strike some as vague or conservative to a fault, and the clarity of their thesis is marred by indirect and precious writing. Yet their claim that ""what we do inside relationships matters more than any other aspect of human life"" is a powerful one. Agent, Carol Mann. 9-city author tour. (Feb.)
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