Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Psychologist James Hillman writes about Love Maps in his book, CODE OF THE SOUL (Random House NY, 1996). These maps are one of the ways psychology tries to account for how each of us is “seized by love.”
     Why do we “fall” for a certain person? The Love Map is a schema of elements you have created by your life experiences. The “map” is layers of physiology: inner chemistry, brain neurology, sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell; and psychology, personal sympathies and antipathies, fears, phobias, joys, emotions of all sorts.
This is a kind of experience or sentient body constructed within you and also shaped by your life. Ah, Nature and Nurture! Family practices, Aunties, Uncles (including weird Uncle Al), tribal, neighborhood, cultural, religious, village mores, jobs, media, books, traditions, and on and on. All these combine to shape, mold and fashion your own, unique Love Map.
     In your imagination, in your heart, your sentient Love Map forms an idealized a “proto-image” of your ideal love partner. Day by day, year by year, you watch potential love partners go by. You refine this “proto-image” until it gradually emerges and gets fired by hormones right down to the details: size and shape of the nose, hair color, teeth, complexion, lip size, voice and mouth, ears, hip width, even worldly goods.
     The Love Map is the physical part, the individualized part of love. It has a deterministic affect on how we travel over the road of life and the terrain of Love.
     As we grow, and age and change, our Love Map changes. My Love Map today at age 65+ is far different than my Love Map at age 30, or at 20. I should have regretted at age 20 that I had so few camels (exactly zero) and was therefore not on any Love Map to a large portion of the world’s women.

The Love Map is only one part, an intimate personal part. Another part is that according to Hillman and other psychologists, there are seven Lands of Love, named by the ancient Greeks, through which we travel in our lives.
     The love between parents and children and children and parents is call storge. It is a deeply visceral love. There is deep trauma when it is broken.
     The love between young children who are playmates is called ludus, playful love. Between older folk, ludus is flirting, teasing, or dancing in a playful loving manner.
     Philia is a love between deep friends, comrades. It includes, personal sacrifice, honesty, sharing intimacies, support, trust, responsibility.
     One land of love we all meet is philantia, self-love. You will enter the land of self-love and either come out with greater self-control and transformation, or greater vanity, narcissism, gluttony or any one of a dozen longings to fulfill your personal desires.
     If you emerge from philantia able to tolerate others, have learned some patience and are able to share practical work; you will enter the land of pragma, the love of the craft, the practical, the consistent and steady love possible between couples.
     Self-intoxication is high if eros, sexual passion takes hold of you. The the ancient Greeks were fearful of losing control but not us! Sexuality as love has top of mind in our culture. It’s what we call romantic love. Fantasy embellishes the land of romance. Hillman even wonders whether or not fantasy “designs” our Love Map for romance today.
     One final land of love remains in our life We will need others to care for us, and we will need to care for others. That is the land of love called agape, selfless love. Or universal loving kindness. It is caretaking love. It is a land in which we all will arrive. It is a love, we all must practice.

Always that question, eh? What do you want? What is your choice? In which land of love will you live? Is your Love Map sophisticated? Are you only looking for people in your lives to match the one profile which you created when your hormones were intensely raging at age 16 or so? That may be pretty narrow, even crude map. How many ways have you shown that you love someone else? Have you travelled through all the lands of love?
Is your experience of philia “friending” a whole bunch of people on Facebook?
Are you honkey-tonk dancing and doing a ludus country-western two-step or are you a lit-tle too erotic?
We spend a lot of energy to “fall in love.” But, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm wonders how much energy to we spend to “stand in love” as in pragma, in the act of giving love to save a relationship?
     Research and violence today shows that agape love has declined sharply. Is it hard for us to care about strangers? C.S. Lewis called agape love, “gift love." We love ourselves, no doubt about it. But, Aristotle said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of our feelings for ourselves.”
I want for us all to be seized by that gift love and “fall” in agape-love with the world - "Children, love one another."

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved.
CODE OF THE SOUL, James Hillman, Random House NY, 1996


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