Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Human Experience: Emotional Hunger Vs. Love

By Robert Firestone, Ph.D.  in The Human Experience

Emotional hunger is not love. It is a strong emotional need caused by deprivation in childhood. It is a primitive condition of pain and longing which people often act out in a desperate attempt to fill a void or emptiness. This emptiness is related to the pain of aloneness and separateness and can never realistically be fully satisfied in an adult relationship. Yet people refuse to bear their pain and to face the futility of gratifying these primitive needs and dependency. They deny the fact of their own ultimate death and do everything in their power to create an illusion that they are connected to other persons. This fantasy of belonging to another person allays the anxiety about death and gives people a sense of immortality. Hunger is a powerful emotion, which is both exploitive and destructive to others when it is acted out. People identify this feeling with love and mistakenly associate these longings with genuine affection. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Feelings of emotional hunger are deep and are like a dull but powerful aching in your insides. You may often find yourself reaching out and touching others or expressing affection and loving movements in order to attempt to kill off this aching sensation. People often give physical affection and attention when they feel the most need for it themselves. This type of physical affection is draining of the emotional resources of loved ones, particularly one's children, rather than enhancing their development psychologically. It is wise to be suspicious of your own use of the word "love" or "I love you." If you search yourself truthfully you may discover that you say these words most often, not when you feel the most for others, but rather when you experience strong dependency needs and feel the need for reassurance.

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