2013-06-04 09:38





By Mark Vernon

麦子 选注

Religious and spiritual sorts tend to bang on about love.1 God is love, some say. Practice the art of loving-kindness2, others commend. And I've found it hard to know what sense to make of these sentiments3. They can so easily lose weight4 and meaning in a thousand repetitions. Then there is the claim that love reveals and is the fundamental truth of reality.5 What can be made of that in a scientific age?

Then, I started to read up on developmental psychology6. It seems to me that the modern science illuminates7 the older, religious claims.

Psychologists and psychotherapists as diverse as Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud, John Bowlby and Donald Winnicott seem to say that we learn about love in roughly three stages.8 Our first love is narcissistic9—not an entirely pleasant thought, though behaving as if we were the only creature of importance in the world is necessary for our early survival. Freud talked of His Majesty the Baby10.

Neonates are lovable and tyrannical.11 Winnicott showed that the good-enough parent is not perfect but is capable of being devoted to their child, especially in the early weeks. The aim is to instil a feeling that life can be trusted because, on the whole, it delivers what the child needs, physically and emotionally.12 A sense of wellbeing13 grows in the young body. It provides the basis for the kind of self-love that enables you to get over yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin. The myth of Narcissus conveys a similar insight.14 The problem the beautiful youth had was not that he loved himself too much, but that he couldn't love himself and drowned seeking reassurance15.

Narcissism might be called the love of one. Next follows love between two. It is a step into the unknown. It's frightening to awaken to16 the realisation that you are dependent upon another—a parent, in the child's case; a partner, in the adult equivalent17: romantic love. But the upside18 is that life expands. To be one of two promises deeper delights and wider horizons than narcissism can embrace.19

There is an assumption that dyadic love, also called falling in love, is the pinnacle of lovely experiences.20 But it is only the midpoint21 of the story according to developmental psychology. The next step comes with a secure-enough attachment22, as Bowlby put it. Equipped with such trust, the child is able to explore the world—to take tentative steps away from the cosy twosome.23

Then there's me, there's Mum or Dad, and now there's something else—a third dimension known in the reality of siblings, friends, interests, goals, a current of life that runs independently of me, though I'm somehow part of it.24 Again, taking that step is alarming, possibly traumatic.25 However, if negotiated OK, life becomes richer again, and more risky, and the individual's perception26 of reality grows.

At each transition—from one to two, from two to the triangular space—the individual realises that love was already there waiting for him or her. Narcissistic self-absorption27 relaxes with the realisation that I am held in the love of another. Lovers move from falling in love to standing in love, to recall Erich Fromm's phrase.

The life of faith detects28 that there is a fourth dimension to add to this third, a divine love that is there waiting. It holds all because it is the source of the love that flows through all. Fear and uncertainty do not cease29. Human love always feels a bit like that. But faith is the felt sense that love can be trusted because love is, in truth, the ground of reality.

1. sort:〈口〉某一种人,某一类人;bang on:喋喋不休地谈到,唠叨不停。

2. loving-kindness: 慈爱,仁慈。

3. sentiment: 观点,意见。

4. weight: 影响,力量。

5. claim: 声称,主张;fundamental: 基本的,根本的。

6. developmental psychology: 发展心理学,研究心理发展规律的科学。

7. illuminate: 阐明,解释。

8. psychotherapist;心理治疗师;Jean Piaget: 让•皮亚杰,瑞士心理学家,发生认识论的创始人;Sigmund Freud: 西格蒙德•弗洛伊德,奥地利精神治疗医生,精神分析学派的创始人;John Bowlby: 约翰•鲍比,英国发展心理学家;Donald Winnitcott: 唐纳德•温尼科特,英国儿童心理学家;roughly: 大致上,大约。

9. narcissistic: 自恋的,自我陶醉的。

10. His Majesty the Baby:婴儿陛下,弗洛伊德称新生儿为“婴儿陛下”,新生儿成长中会经历“原始性自恋”时期。

11. neonate: 新生儿,婴儿;tyrannical: 专横的,暴虐的。

12. 这样做的目的就是要给孩子逐渐灌输一种感觉,那就是生命是可以信任交托的,因为总体上来说,这种感觉符合婴儿在身体和情感上的需要。

13. wellbeing: 幸福,安乐。

14. Narcissus: 那喀索斯,古希腊神话中的美少年,他因爱慕自己在水中的倒影溺水而死;convey: 表达,传达;insight: 深刻见解,深入了解。

15. reassurance: 再安慰,(信心、勇气等的)恢复。

16. awaken to: 意识到,醒悟。

17. equivalent: 相等物,对应物。

18. upside: 好的方面,有利的一面。

19. horizon: 视野,眼界;embrace: 包含,包括。

20. assumption: 假定,设想;dyadic: 二的,双的,二分体的;pinnacle: 顶点,顶峰。

21. midpoint: 中点,(时间、事件等进程的)一半。

22. attachment: 情感,爱慕。

23. tentative: 踌躇的,犹豫不决的;cosy: 舒适的,亲密无间的;twosome: 一双,一对情侣。

24. dimension: 方面,部分;sibling: 兄弟(或姐妹),同胞。

25. alarming: 令人忧虑的,令人惊恐的;traumatic;创伤的,损伤的。

26. perception: 观念,看法。

27. self-absorption: 自我专注。

28. detect: 发现,察觉。

29. cease: 停,终止。

(来源:《英语学习》杂志 编辑:Julie)



















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