The Difference Between Hollywood’s Portrayal Of Love And Psychology’s Understanding Of It

For some reason, I do not find this expression comforting: “You’ll know what love is when you feel it.” Maybe I don’t like it because it implies two things–that love is just a feeling (thus, uncontrollable and disappears easily), and that unless you feel it, you do not know how to love. I blame popular culture for creating generations and generations of desperate romantics who would drop dead if it were only for a chance to date that somebody they truly, absolutely love. Boys in fedora hats whine because they were thrown into the friendzone. Rabid fans send death threats to fiancés of famous people. In the Philippines, there is a phenomenon known as ‘hugot,’ which is usually manifested in bitter statements that show how an inanimate object can love better than a human being would. This is similar to the “All these” meme, but all these hugot posts are about love.

Because of this, I call BS on popular culture’s take on love. Films and songs will tell you that love is like this, love is like that. For the most part, films are fantasies, projections of alternate realities that we are too afraid to create. Here are some examples of how popular culture portrayed love:

1. Love is never having to say you’re sorry.

2. Love is making a video tape for your wife who can’t remember every day of her life since she crashed to a tree.

3. Love is killing yourself because when you woke up from your fake death you found out that the boy you secretly married thought you were actually dead and so killed himself with poison.

4. Love is quitting your job as a male stripper.

I have nothing against this. Believe what you like. That seems to be what films are there for: films allow us to imagine the unimaginable. But I’d place more trust on people who clinically studied love. Being a psychology major, I’d hear about the many colorful theories of dead Westerners. Here are a few.

Sigmund Freud would say that you only love this person because they remind you of your mother (or father). In other words, you didn’t have a choice.

Carl Jung would say that you love this person because they are a physical manifestation of your own animus or anima. In other words, you’re feeding your ego.

Abraham Maslow would say that love is the third step in his hierarchy of needs, and that you need to fulfill the need to be loved to be able to be self-actualized. In other words, you’re just using that person to become whole.

Erik Erikson would say that you loving a person is simply a stage in your life, that you have to choose whether or not you would love or remain isolated. In other words, you’re just using that person to become whole.

Alfred Adler would say that the reason you love this person is because you’re compensating for something. In other words, you’re feeding your ego.

Ivan Pavlov would probably claim that your love for a person is simply because you were conditioned to love this person by peculiar circumstances. In other words, you didn’t have a choice.

Ah, now that I think about it, I’d rather watch more movies. Maybe love loses its meaning when we try to define it. Maybe love really is something you just know. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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