A regular review of interesting cultural shifts & marketing developments as viewed through the collective lens of the Stancombe Research + Planning Team

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cupid’s Arrow

It is Valentine’s Day and that got me thinking about ‘love at first sight’, something that is rare yet wonderful and considered the ultimate mysterious romantic blessing by many.  But, what it is really?
From our study of the human condition, we know about a phenomenon called transference.  

Transference was a term first coined by the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Freud acknowledged transference as important for deeper understanding of the patient's emotional responses. Let’s face it; love is a deeply emotional feeling that usually generates a range of responses depending on the individual and circumstances.

So, what is the connection between transference and ‘love at first sight’?

In psychological terms, ‘love at first sight’ is merely an instant recognition in the other of something about them that we made a strong connection with in our childhood. When we are instantly attracted we have probably been triggered by something familiar that we experienced in a relationship with someone who was significant to us during our early childhood development e.g. a way of standing, a sparkle in the eye, a tone of voice or a way of moving, a body type or behaviour. This recognition is unconscious which is why we attribute mystical and special powers to this occurrence – it just happens and can bowl people over when it does - a direct hit from Cupid’s arrow and it feels instant, exciting and often perfect. It is ‘love at first sight’.

Now, that is not to say that this unconscious transference is always a positive thing. We may recognise in the other negative qualities that we became familiar with in our infancy or childhood – for example, emotional remoteness, chaotic attachment style, a mean tone of voice, abusiveness and so on. Unfortunately, because our instant attraction feels so strong, we can sometimes persevere in a relationship that repeats an old and painful pattern. (Let’s hope none of us are in one of those relationships and if we are… there is always psychotherapy!).

Yet, ‘love at first sight’ can also be beautiful. When the transference is based on an unconscious recognition and attraction to positive qualities in the other, the birds will sing in the trees forever.

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