Home > Freud > Debunking Freud Part III- Love is for Losers

Debunking Freud Part III- Love is for Losers

This article is one of the many articles that will focus on exposing some of the fallacies in Freud’s theoretical make-up. Other posts in this series can be found through the following links:

  1. Debunking Freud Part I- Unconscious Homosexuality
  2. Debunking Freud Part II- The Origins of Male Homosexuality

Before we go on exploring the new, exciting topic in our series, let us go though a small exercise. Below you will find two links, each of which will lead you to a survey. The survey will consist of a quasi Thematic Apperception Test. Why quasi? Well, because I came up with it on the spot, and I have not the slightest idea if it will measure or reveal what I think it is supposed to measure.  So, mesdames et mesdemoiselles, click on Lola to proceed. Gentlemen, you follow Bugs.

Lola Bunny


Bugs Bunny


The quasi TAT test you went through, assuming that you did, was cued to make you identify with a person of the same gender as you in order to describe the feelings and thoughts about a loved one. Each picture in the test was chosen so that you would perceive a slight imbalance in the rapport within the couple. Hence, those who clicked on the picture with Lola saw a man genuflecting in front of a woman, while those those who clicked on Bugs saw a man holding a woman on top of him in a slightly leisurely (and maybe even sexy) way. Thus, I hoped to show through those photos that one partner shows more love to another (not that I think that I was successful in that endeavor).

So, how does this small exercise tie with Freud? Freud had a very nasty, Hobbesian view about humans. For him even such a sentiment as love is not an emotion that stems out of selfless desire. On the contrary, Freud considered that love is essentially selfish,  and that any exceptions to this are the result of the superego overcoming the id.  In the Freudian realm, when we mention something related to love, we are essentially talking about object-love. When the infant comes to this world and later develops an identity, anything that gratifies or thwarts his needs is considered an object. So, objects include not only such mundane, inanimate concepts  as chairs, tables, etc., but also animate concepts, e.g. mother, father, dog…

As the child interacts with his world, some objects gain more significance than others. The amount of importance an object gains is proportional to how well it satisfies the id of the child. Hence, because mothers are highly nurturing, children see them as important objects. Moreover, because some objects are more important than others, they tend to receive more libido, a type of emotional investment from the part of the child. Because of this libidinous investment, for Freud love is considered more like an instinct that helps the child survive.

In his book on narcissism, Freud came to even a more unconventional conclusion that might have outraged those who consider love as a pure emotion. This is what he said:

Loving in itself, insofar as it is longing an deprivation, lowers self-regard, whereas being loved, having one’s love returned and possessing the loved object raises it once more.

What he means is that you feel good and happy as long as you’re loved, and you subject yourself to abjection once you start loving someone. Loving is for losers and being loved is for cool guys(and girls).

Fromm, a renown philosopher and psychologist, did not like the whole love-object affair. He fought that there is no such thing as “love-object.” For him love was an inner activity, where the loved ones become part of who you are, and that speaking of someone you love as being an object is simply strange and materialistic.

I do not know if Freud’s conclusion about love are scientifically valid. I think that Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love has more evidence behind it that explains at least partly some intricacies related to love. Nevertheless, Freud’s theory is highly appealing. Try to remember a time when you loved someone and that love was not returned. How did you feel? I am sure that this is not a sentiment that you would like to experience again. Now, if you are among the lucky Freudlings, try and recall how you felt when you were loved? Did you, at some point, feel that maybe the person who loves you is somehow owned by you? If yes, then maybe through the TAT test you might have revealed that you do see loved ones as objects.







Freud, S. (1914). On narcissism: An introduction. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. London: The Hogarth Press.

Fromm, E. (1980) Greatness and limitations of Freud’s thought. New York: Harper & Row Publishers. {The book was originally published in Germany under the title Sigmund Freud Psychoanalyse–Grosse und Grezen}

Perlman, E. (1986). Introduction: Narcissism and Object Choice in Freud British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3 (1), 60-64 DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-0118.1986.tb00955.x

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s