Sigmund Freud is renowned psychology and his works are revered across the globe. Freud did a lot of inspirational work in his attempts to explain dynamics around love (Freud, 1926). As a matter of fact, other than Freud, many other theorists and researchers emphasize that love makes people vulnerable to psychosocial problems. According to love theorists, when one opens his/her heart to love, he/she allows another person to get in and mess up the way they think, act and make decisions (Freud, 1926).
They build defenses, create a suit of armor, and believe they are secure from emotional harm. These are traits typical of stupid people. As a matter of fact, this is the time that people start wandering into a life of stupidity. Most people that are in love will admit to having done something stupid at some time point in their life. Love holds people, hostage, to others.
One may wonder why someone would risk his business, career, family, and marriage for an illicit affair that to others is just but an irrational act. In recent times, doctors have attempted to unravel reasons why love makes people not just irrational but also stupid and ridiculous. Scientists have noted that the frontal cortex, which is important in making judgments, shuts down the moment one falls in love (Nietzel, Bernstein, & Milich, 1994).
As a matter of fact, modern MRI has shown that shut down as a result of love deactivates the frontal cortex. When this occurs, the individual suspends all criticisms/doubt and begins to act irrationally. Nietzel, Bernstein, & Milich (1994) observed that this happened when an image of people the subjects were in love with was presented. A number of theorists have either directly or indirectly supported Freud’s assertion that “one is crazy when they fall in love.”
Eysenck proposed a theory that classified people as either extroverts or introverts. According to this theorist, even introverts turn into extroverts when they fall in love. The theorist goes ahead to note that people who are extraverted have an innate black-out or repressed brain functionality. For instance, Eysenck argues that if an extroverted person has an accident, he/she is likely to forget about it and will not have a problem sitting behind the car wheel and driving the next day or as soon as they are out of hospital (Eysenck, 1990). They simply wish away things and move on like they never happened.
According to theorists, introverted people who are in love create their own world and believe in it. For instance, when they experience unpleasant social experiences, such as being humiliated in public or rejection by someone they love, the activated repressive function in the brain suppresses the experience making it easily forgotten. They simply have a way through which band memories are eradicated and as a result, they end making non-factual decisions. This definitely falls within the band of stupidity. Such people, despite being humiliated at a party will not hesitate to promote themselves at another party or go back to the one who rejected them.
However, Eysenck believes that personalities are genetically defined. According to Eysenck (1990), one is either extroverted or introverted or is neurotic or psychotic, and that such can never change for life puts to test the argument that love makes people stupid. As a matter of fact, one may ask how love would change one’s personality if it is genetic (Hall & Gardner, 1985). However, as earlier stated, there is scientific evidence that links falling in love to biological processes. Consequently, it could be possible to link falling in love to genetic variations which lead to changes in personality.
Cattell’s theory almost borders on Eysenck’s. Factually, the two theorists differ in that Cattell dealt with lots of traits while Eysenck narrowed it down to only a few. It is on this basis that the “Big Five” originated. The “Big Five” theory incorporates five major traits that interact in order to define human personality (Hall & Gardner, 1985). The traits include extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. All these interplays describe personality behaviors associated with people in love. Love creates an obsession whereby one makes it a primary objective to please the other no matter how stupid such a decision might be (Cattell, 1965).
Despite the fact that many theorists agree that people are best described by personality, they also agree that love drastically changes personality. While arguing that traits are poor predictors of behavior, Cattell, notes that love comes with extraversion and that in many instances leads to loss of consciousness and reasonable judgment (Cattell, 1965). As a matter of fact, it has been noted that people who are in love, despite seeing the truth and real picture, in many instances, simply turn blind, ignore reality, and instead choose to create their own illusions.
Skinner highlights another perspective of love through social exchange theory. According to Skinner, love is a behavioral act (Skinner, 1960). Further, Skinner (1960) points out that people interact for purposes of gaining something or in the least, with the expectation of getting complimented. Drawing from behavioral psychology, Skinner (1960) explained behavior based on rewards and punishments expected from a behavior. As a result of the need for reward and evading punishment, people devise ways through which they increase the odds of having a reward in their interest. According to the theorist, humans learn what is rewarding through a behavior array aimed at getting positive reinforcement.
Such actions are relayed consistently until such a time that positive reinforcement is achieved. Comparing this to love, when someone falls in love, the primary objective is to please the person he/she falls in love with. People stop making rational decisions and instead have all their decisions guided by the need to please people they fall in love with. They learn new behaviors that focus on the new goal and shun the rest. As a result, they act stupidly.
Allport’s on the other hand made a decision to ratify trait as the main concept in an emerging personality field (Allport, 1936). He noted that traits had significant consequences on personality measurement such as stability versus change and roles played by personality and situations in behavioral explanations. Although falling short of affirming that every situation comes with a personality change, his theory suggested it. He further suggested a relationship between traits and personality constructs such as motive (Allport, 1936).
Another theorist, Horney proposed the psychoanalytic social theory that is based on assumption that social and cultural circumstances during childhood shape personality (Horney, 1956; Rubins, 1978). The theory almost contradicts Freud’s assertion. It would be logical to argue that falling in love would have little impact if personality is already built from childhood (Ryckmann, 1993). This is however not true as evidence suggests that people tend to act differently when they fall in love. Horney argues that people that fail to have their love and affection needs addressing during childhood, develop some form of hostility leading to anxiety (Nietzel, Bernstein, & Milich, 1994).
As a result, evidence suggests that in their later life, these people either move towards people, move against people, or move away from people. It has been argued that this is the best neurotic theory. Additionally, Horney viewed neurosis as a means of coping and making life bearable (Horney, 1956). However, based on her theory it can be argued that different people react differently to falling in love depending on their early life experiences.
According to Horney (1956), humans need affection and approval. These are neurotic needs. These needs cannot be acquired from everyone. Horney however emphasizes the need to exercise self-sufficiency. Neurotic needs are intense and come with lots of anxiety and hence their unrealistic nature. It is this unrealistic nature that contributes to stupid decisions people make when in love. More particularly it is important to note that all people require affection at all times and when such is deprived, panic sets in, and people begin making unrealistic decisions. As a matter of fact, people who are in love are more likely to make stupid decisions when they feel their relationship is threatened.
Erikson focused on personality psychology. His theory is one of the most revered. According to Erickson, personality is not a one-day thing; rather it develops through multiple stages (Erikson, 1993). He puts emphasis on the impact of social experiences on personality. In a close reference to love, Erikson expressed a belief that people must create close ties and committed relations with others (Erikson, 1993).
He further emphasized that strong relationships are important and failures often lead to loneliness and isolation (Shaffer, 1978). People however fear isolation and put in lots of effort in order to maintain strong relationships. According to Erickson, despite the fact that psychosocial theory is conventionally presented as systematic and sequential steps, it is important that all stages are accorded great importance. This helps in developing self-perception. It has been suggested that a poor sense of self is often a recipe for relationships with a lesser commitment. This is typical of insecure relationships.
Ideas/theories proposed by Jung, alongside those of Freud offers insightful information useful in understanding love intrigues (Jung, 1958). As a matter of fact, in investigating the structure and nature of love psychology, more particularly in the unconsciousness realm, they both postulated a projection notion where one views another as a realistic picture of what they want to be (Maddi, 1996; Krebs, Blackman, 1988). As is the case with most psychological terms/conditions, projection occurs when various conditions exist.
However, the best of Jung’s support for Freud’s assertion that love makes people act stupidly is manifest in the argument that loving someone is a process that occurs when we see in them what we want to be (Jung, 1958). Such a perception blurs rational reasoning. We see right in the people we love and pay little attention to any shortcomings. Jung, like other theorists, also embraced the psychical orientation that creates introverts and extroverts, in addition to four elements including the rational, thought and feeling, irrational as well as perception and intuition. These want constitutes psychological reactions from people.
Kohut, unlike the other theorists, placed emphasis on free will and relationships in shaping people’s lives (Kohut, 1979). His theory is perhaps the closest one that supports the assertion that love makes people act stupid. The theory affirms the role of relationships in shaping people’s character. The same can however not be said of Rogers whose personality theory is an offshoot of his previous client-centered theory. He looks at the human character as being “exquisitely rational” (Rogers, 1961, p.194). Additionally, he holds the opinion that “the core of man’s nature is essentially positive” (Rodgers, 1961, p.73).
In general, most of the theorists discussed fail to directly support Freud’s assertion. However, most are in agreement that social factors contribute to human behavior and that humans continuously need affection in order to feel loved. As a matter of fact, it can be argued that most theorists believe different people will react differently to falling in love depending on their personalities. As science suggests, understanding the factors that influence decisions people make when in love extends beyond theories put forward by various psychologists. However, these theories offer useful pointers upon which research into this delicate area can be based. It is no bluff that people in love are vulnerable to poor decision-making, however, lots of research is still needed to fully explain this. This position is not helped by the differing arguments put forward by theorists.
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