Amore e Psiche – Antonio Canova

Epic love that ends badly, very badly. 

Helen is too beautiful and Aphrodite such an envious goddess that she decides to get her and all civilisations to come into trouble. Even, Aphrodite makes her fall in love with Paris, who at first resists (or at least tries to,because Helen is the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta) but then gives in, kidnaps her (or saves her, depending on the reading), starting the Trojan War, and an infinity of future cognitive biases

Ulysses goes out for a moment, just a quick trip to buy a newspaper and cigarettes, then gets distracted and disappears for another ten years, while his wife Penny resists a host of suitors and waits. Sitting at her loom, she makes the canvas and then unravels it, one day, two, a month, the seasons pass, the years too. She grows old, but waits, seemingly imperturbable, however lonely. However desperate.

Chivalrous love tooting King Arthur’s horn. Guinevere and Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, Arthur and Morgana. Tristan and Isolde.

The love of tragedies: one above all the story of the Montagues and Capulets, Romeo & Juliet, immortal because it is dramatic, certainly, but above all because it is timeless.

Or rather two, because we cannot forget Paolo and Francesca

Amor, ch’a nullo amato amar perdona,
Took me of this pleasure so strong,
Which, as thou seest, still doth not leave me.

Harry Meets Sally

Romantic love sung by poets and magnified by literature: Goethe’s young Werther who pines away, Byron’s Don Juan who loves a thousand women, the proud protagonists of Jane Austen’s novels and Emily Bronte’s super-passionate ones.

Love on the big screen: Gone with the Wind, Roman Holiday, but also Harry When I Met Sally, Love Actually, Last Tango in Paris, 9 1/2 Weeks, The Secrets of Brokeback Mountain, Pretty Woman and Notting Hill, up to – and well beyond – The Fabulous World of Amélie. Et cetera, et cetera…

And then love on the small screen, in the kitchen, or in the living room, in the telenovelas made of tears, betrayals and pathos.

In all these loves, in front of all these stories, we are always moved. 

Literally, we ‘move with’, identifying with their protagonists: we suffer when we see them suffer, we laugh with them, we cheer and keep our fingers crossed.

Until the end.

Until ‘The end’.

Until that same ‘And they lived happily ever after’ of the fairy tales of our childhood.

We wait for Snow White to wake up kissed by the Prince, for the Prince to put the shoe on Cinderella, for Harry and Sally to realize they love each other. Then when the book closes, and the credits roll, the ‘mythological machine’ crystallizes the last image in our memory and with it the characters and their lives.

At this point, the phrase ‘And they lived happily ever after’ wins the label ‘forever’. So we leave the cinema, put the book down, close Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, etc., turn off the TV. And then it can happen that we look at our lives, at our Love, under a shower of question marks.

By comparison, we wonder why our Love is not the same, not as strong and magical, and above all, eternal.

My answer has to do with the life I have chosen for myself and therefore also with my way of being in the world. It has to do with Emotionally Focused therapy – EFT

The love of the mythological machine is perfect and always is.

Our Love, on the other hand, the one we experience as creatures made of cells, organs, connections and bones, is human. More: our Love is biological.

HUMAN LOVE IS BIOLOGICAL!

Beyond fiction – books, movies, songs, poetry and art – our Love is alive and is dynamic, not static, constantly evolving and changing. 

Just as our cells are. 
Just as we are.
It is a need that has been with us since before our very first waking.
Every moment, every single breath. 

‘FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE’.
J. Bowlby

It is a need that nourishes us, in body and spirit.
It is urgency, relief, comfort, and guidance.
It is security.
It is shelter.

Love is the pencil that draws us into the world and draws the world to us.

It is the dance of attachment that accompanies us in our every breath.

Love is, as John Bowlby said back in the last century, ‘closeness’ with loved ones, and given that closeness is ‘a brilliant survival technique programmed by evolution’ (always him), then Love is first and foremost survival.

LOVE IS SURVIVAL!

Literally. People who can count on a secure bond live longer than others, and healthier. They are stronger. Their bodies are more resilient, as are their immune defences. Their serotonin production is higher, and more constant. Their mood is more balanced and happy.

People with a secure bond are in turn more secure, even more independent and autonomous.

Sue Johnson also tells us this in ‘Stringimi forte – Sette passi per una vita piena d’amore’, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Italian edition of 2022, with a preface by Giulia Altera and Andrea Pagani.

And we, as therapists specialized in EFT – Emotionally Focused Therapy – see this every day.

In fact, we feel it, through our sense organs but above all with our heart and belly: we feel it from the people who seek our support because they have understood how love is diriment, fundamental, irreplaceable for their well-being; we feel it by listening to them and ourselves, as well as the people who are close to us.

Indeed: Love is everything, just like oxygen, like water, like taking our vitamins, quoting Sue Johnson again…

We will talk about Love again, and at length, in the next posts, trying to discover, together, the power of EFT, and its ability to improve our lives, as therapists and as people.

We feel it and experience it everywhere, because Love is everywhere.