Individual consequences in dealing with the pain of love deprivation


SOCIAL Assimilation

SIGMUND FREUD never questioned socialization. The development of human consciousness is inconceivable without preceding socialization, since man is always an individual and a social being. Only in the face of another man he/she can experience him/herself as different, as an individual. But the price we have to pay for this, both as individuals and as a species, is high: without deprivation of love the education (to become a well socialized adult) is not possible; even if – in favor of its environment – this only concerns the restriction of the child’s needs for autonomy and by no means consists of bullying dressage or emotional manipulation. 

VIRGINA DEMOS has shown how important certain experiences of frustration for the infant are including the negative feelings associated with them. Only through them does the child learn a manifold applicable emotional competence in partnership interactions – and thus also the ability to love. The criticism of socialization contained in my remarks is not fundamentally directed against it (it is part of the condition humaine) but against the excesses in our almost exclusively rationally determined achievement society.

Change in pain experienceResponse to psychic pain
Stage IV 
Completely repressed longing for love

CONSUMPTION ADDICTIONS – workaholics, greed for possessions, money, power, sex – jealousy  
Stage III 
Feelings of guilt/shame

CONTEMPT – Oppression – Sadomasochism
Stage II  
Psychic secondary fears
psychic secondary rage

DEPRESSION – panic – suicide
VIOLENCE – revenge/hate – murder/suicide
Stage I
Psychic secondary pain/psychic insult

Psychic secondary fears and secondary rage
Stage I 
(unconscious, repressed)

Psychic primary pain

Fight-or-flight behaviour
Table: Levels of social adjustment to psychic pain

The stages of social assimilation that I present here summarize the process of increasing alienation from the primary self through the “expulsion from paradise” and the loss of being love. The negative consequences of socialization – i.e. the pathology of our society – are presented as the expression of an intensifying tendency to avoid psychic pain. Ultimately, it is about the inability to accept life in its wholeness.

Stages I-III of the table are linked to the experience of secondary psychic pain (of insult scarification) and are found in all cultures, archaic or modern. Due to increased social influences and the greater repression with which it is associated and due to the additional mixing of gendered needs and realities of excited love, defense strategies are becoming increasingly more complex. 

From the close-to-nature experience of psychic primary pain and the likewise close-to-instinct reactive level (primary anxiety and primary rage) – corresponding to the primary feelings expressed by infants – the feelings shift – via various socialization steps due to psychic insults – into the realm of psychic secondary pain. Under neurotising conditions, secondary fear and secondary anger give rise to the reactive forms depression and violence.

Based on the increased assimilation to social demands and the increasing internalization of commandments and prohibitions, feelings of shame and guilt develop; the repression mechanism increasingly comes into function; with the help of projections psychic insults are addressed in a socially acknowledged (contempt, xenophobia, etc.) or not acknowledged form (sadism, masochism, etc.) in a xenophobic or self-damaging way.

For our so-called sophisticated society compensatory satisfactions are typical: addictions of all kinds. One form of addiction that seems to become more and more important in the globalized information society alongside consumerism is workaholism, the self-destructive form of work that, coming from the USA, seems to be spreading more and more among young people in Europe (POPPELREUTER) – work as a socially recognized substitute for love, as a legal addiction that generates passivity: there is no rebellion against the exploitation of man by man but an identification with the oppressor, as described by WILHELM REICH.

The workaholism indirectly includes the shift of the need for love into the material world, the attempt to attain self-affirmation through excesses in the area of possessions, money, consumption and sex.

Returning to being Love?

DORNES writes of the “competent infant”: “How is it now possible that loud voiced toddlers who stand up for ‘their rights’ full of self-confidence turn into insecure timid adults who are ‘no longer sure of their cause’, ‘big ones’ who don’t dare to stand up ‘for themselves’?” 

In fact, probably everyone “feels” deep inside that our relation towards the environment is not at its best; but to openly fight for healthy air and clean water, the common sense is warning us to undertake any actions considering these consequences we would have to expect. To stand up for something we are convinced of, but which is not associated with social appreciation or even meets opposition, is a quality which we adults seem to find increasingly difficult, the more anonymous and the more abstract the forces are, against which we would have to stand up. 

If we try to return to the original experience, to being love, it is not only the complicated system of repressions that makes our intention difficult. Our surroundings, all the socially well-adjusted, well-meaning friends and last but not least our relatives also try out every means to keep us in line. (Those who so far have relied on our good character do not want to suddenly have to deal with an unexpected new behavior and with resistance.)

The disadvantages of non-conformist behavior cannot be overlooked: Should I not only take more freedom for myself, but also work to stop the unrestrained exploitation of others – from humans and animals to the violated nature – a merry-go-round of consequences would be set in motion, the domino effect of which could be more or less predictably or unpredictably disturbing, partly unpredictable. Therefore, we prefer to bow to the factual constraints. 

In addition, accepting the repressed means coming to terms with rejected sides of our personality. Unpleasant memories may emerge that make it difficult to get in touch with the original experience. Probably not least for this reason – out of the not unfounded fear that the evoked ghosts could no longer be kept under control – the psyche has developed a whole arsenal of protective mechanisms against regression, i.e. against returning to the psychologically painful origins of repression

In an illusory world in which projections and preconceived opinions determine our behavior, it is hardly possible for the individual to check the patterns and norms imposed by this external reality; instead he/she conforms.

This leads to a second consequence, which can be seen in the wars in the course of human history that have been waged for or against any ideologies. Yugoslavia offers an example and the Middle East is a perennial source of this collective madness. Preconceived notions, legitimized by society’s value system, can be used to rationalize methods of education, which are known to produce psychic damage, as well as the power games within relationships. Sayings such as “He who loves his children chastises them” or “I am still grateful to my father today that he gave me a good thrashing” are examples of collectively passed on convictions that are used without question as justifications.

Whether through over-adaptation or through the exercise of power, through addictions or consumption, by all means man tries, admittedly or unacknowledgedly, to get love from outside, resp. to forget the longing for the state of being love. To renounce purposeful love and engage in being love again seems too risky for most. But this – originally “normal” – basic state can no longer be attained for free.

Dr. Kurt Eugen Schneider
Dr. Kurt Eugen Schneider