Friday, February 18, 2011

Deprivation of love

Deprivation of any emotion is harmful to the personality, but deprivation of love is especially damaging. As Jersild says, “there is something emotionally satisfying about being, loved, and there also is something very practical about it”. Harlow speaks of love as “a wondrous state, deep, tender and rewarding”. Love includes not only the condition of being loved but also the act of loving. If it is to contribute positively and maximally to personality development, it must be developmentally appropriate in terms of quality, quantity, and method of expression.

In the early years of life, the child tries to behave in such a way as to gain parental warmth and acceptance. Later, he learns behavior patterns which bring him parental approval and, at the same time, provide him with effective ways of gratifying his own needs. This frees him from some of the vulnerability that emotional dependence brings. Emotional warmth from love likewise serves to stimulate intellectual development.

Deprivation of an affectionate relationship is most damaging in early childhood. Deprivation at this time may come from institutionalization of the baby or child, owing to the economic or marital status of the parents, the health of the baby or mother, the death of one or both parents, or some other cause. A child may be rejected or neglected by his parents because they favor a sibling or have other things to do. Some parents believe that showing affection for the child will “spoil” him and make him feel too important. “under-the –roof alienation”-¬¬¬as this kind of deprivation is called is more common in the American culture than deprivation due to institutionalization show some common causes of deprivation of love.

Many adults experience deprivation of love, especially in old age and after the death or divorce of a spouse. Deprivation can be almost as damaging to the self-concept in adulthood as in childhood.

Just as a child can suffer under-the-roof alienation, an adult may continue to live with a spouse but be “emotionally separated” from him. In many such cases, the individuals try to compensate for their own deprivation of love by focusing their affection on a child or by having extramarital love affairs.

Unmarried adults, too, experience deprivation of love, whether their failure to marry is due to choice or inability to attract a member of the opposite sex. Devotion to aging parents or to the children of relatives and friends rarely compensates for lack of an enduring affectionate relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

In old age, as in childhood, the major source of affection is normally the family. Even elderly people who are happily married and have interests of their own are rarely able to achieve emotional independence from their children. But in many cultures, the elderly are psychologically, if not economically, rejected by their children and grandchildren. This deprivation of affection is especially damaging when failing health, loss of a spouse or former friends, or the necessity of moving into an institution or into the home of a family member brings about social isolation from non family members who might otherwise supply the elderly person with some of the affection he needs and craves.

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