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The Pathological Love


As human beings, it is normal for us to get attracted and feel compassion and affection to others. As our nature, it is also perfectly normal to have the need to be loved, accepted, and cared for. We are attracted to other person especially those that we think has similar interests and passion in life as ours. But how can we tell if the level of the so called love that we feel toward others is healthy and does not cause suffering? How can we make our affection and compassion helpful to our partner and not pathological and destructive?


One study by Donatella Marazziti, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pisa, suggest that indeed, there are kinds of love that leads to unhealthy result and suffering – pathological love. This so called psychological phenomenon was defined as, “a behavior characterized by providing repetitive and uncontrolled care and attention to the partner in a romantic relationship”. According to her, people who have this kind of trait present unusual feature such as high levels of impulsivity. They also display excessive amount of self-transcendence which means related to being less self-directed due to perpetual anxiety.

It is really important to care for our fellows and to do good that would help them grow but doing this in an obsessive and unmindful way will more likely to bring damage than good, to us and to them. It means that you are being possessive and dependent due to the anxiety and attachment which often leads to jealousy and insecurity. This rarely studied phenomenon is not rare at all and in fact, many of the people who display this trait are often the ones who are unhappy with their relationship as they are always anxious and discontented. In addition, people who are like this also usually attract predators and sociopaths as they are often unconsciously addicted to constant attention and validation. This is because of their extreme and damaging levels of selfless benevolence which often ignores abuse and other kinds of emotional harms.

In connection to this subject and since many people in the world are fan of love songs, let us analyze the lyrics of some of the most famous love songs of our time and see if there is a connection, in minimal or in great amount. First, let’s take a look at Aerosmith lyrics on “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” song. On the verses, the song says:

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing, watch you smile while you are sleeping,

While you’re far away dreaming

I could spend my life in this sweet surrender, I could stay lost in this moment forever

Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Lying close to you feeling your heart beating and I’m wondering what you’re dreaming

Wondering if it’s me you’re seeing

You can clearly see the obsession of the character and how seemingly insecure he is, even denying sleep to himself just to do these kinds of things an asking silly and childish questions.

In Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero”, the character also displays a kind of pathological selflessness and neediness to his partner and also some kind delusion or fantasy thinking:

Now would you die for the one you love? Oh hold me in your arms tonight

I can be your hero baby, I can kiss away the pain, I will stand by you forever

You can take my breath away

Would you swear that you’ll always be mine or would you lie? Would you run and hide?

Am I in too deep? Have I lost my mind? I don’t care, you’re here tonight 

Another is Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do, I Do it for You”. Take a look at how possessive and controlling the character on this song is:

Look into my eyes you will see what you mean to me

Search your heart, search your soul

And when you find me there, you’ll search no more

Don’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for, you can’t tell me it’s not worth dyin’ for

Look into your heart you will find there’s nothin’ there to hide

Take me as I am, take my life, I would give it all, I would sacrifice

The fact is that there are hundreds or even maybe thousands of popular love songs that has this kind of message. Our society is being bombarded with these kinds of pathological love songs that seemingly suggest the lack of self-esteem and self-respect and portray obsession, perpetual emptiness, insecurity, possessiveness, and selflessness on a daily basis. Indeed, a sort of psychological disorder. There is a big probability that many of us people have some kind of pathological love towards our partner because of the influences of these kinds of songs being played on the radio for decades. Growing up hearing these messages, it could be that it was embedded on our subconscious, playing a big role on how we think. Do you think this is possible? And knowing that this is unhealthy, what should we do about it?