Chapter 7: Our Need for Love

Love is a prevalent topic in chapter seven of Bel Canto. Gen realizes his feelings for Carmen and the Russian uses Gen to confess his love to Roxane. While we have known for sometime that everyone has a deep infatuation with Roxane and we noticed situations were becoming heated between Gen and Carmen, it isn’t until over half way through the book that people are finally admitting their feelings. Fyodorov is a married man, but he explains Roxane’s idea of love is much Americanized. Since everyone has been ripped away from his or her routine lives and the things they usually found love in were taken away; I wanted to research our basic need for love. I decided to research not only our need to love but also, our need for it.

The brain complicates feelings of love from a very young age with out us knowing it. These complications become more apparent the more connections and relationships we make. Infants have been studied in the early stages of life with their amount of intimacy and how it affects them psychologically. This form of love is called contact comfort. Children without such contact within the first six months of being born grow up to be psychologically damaged (Raghunathan). Harlow tested our basic needs for affection through the use of infant monkeys without mothers. He used a mechanical mother-like monkeys with a young monkey. Harlow removed young monkeys from their natural mothers a few hours after birth and left them to be “raised” by these mother surrogates. The experiment demonstrated that the baby monkeys spent significantly more time with their cloth mother than with their wire mother (Cherry). “This data makes it obvious that contact comfort is a variable of overwhelming importance in the development of affectional response, whereas lactation is a variable of negligible importance,” Harlow explained (1958). Although harsh, these experiments revealed the long-term devastation caused by deprivation, leading to profound psychological and emotional distress and even death (Cherry). The knowledge of this investigation begins to help us understand how vital affection and love is to our emotions and overall wellbeing.

There are many theories involving the complicated topic of love, but one in particular explains the dynamics of love and how it can be understood in three components. These three components are passion, intimacy and decision/commitment. If one takes all possible combinations of the three components of love one obtains eight subsets which helps to classify love. The classification that I became most interested in was the infatuated love (Sternberg 122). Infatuation would be solely the passion component of love. I believe this is the love we are seeing at this point in our novel. Infatuated love is described as love that turns toward obsession with the partner being loved as an idealized object rather than as him- or herself (Sternberg 124). The love we notice everyone having is a single layer type of love. Their admiration is based off of Roxane’s talent, voice and appearance rather than her intelligence or personality. Someone who is infatuated tends to be characterized by a high degree of mental and physical arousal (Sternberg 124). I have recently chose my topic of “music as propaganda”. I have begun to focus how music can be used against our will to persuade our decisions. Through the analysis of music I have investigated how music subconsciously stimulates our brain and causes involuntary effects, good and/or bad. Opera, with its large vocals, commands attention and causes both high and physical arousal.

After making a connection between the effects of music and the psychology of love I began to see a tight connection among both subjects. Top musicians of all genres have fans, but they always have those fans that take it too fan. They seem to live and breathe for only that particular artist and will do anything to meet them. Infatuation tends to be obsessive as well as asymmetrical (Sternberg 124). I am really interested in all the information I found about love and how difficult is it for scientists to create non-biased/cultured theories. I am still interested in our basic need for love and how it can affect our concentration, motivation, and other aspects of our daily lives. I am beginning to see my underlying question through some of my papers, what is the underlying effect that our subconscious has on our decisions. Do we really have control of our decisions or is what we are exposed to the decider? How has these experiences effected countries, do political officials strive for laws that the public needs or are that they implementing laws they want because of their personal experiences. Understanding the subconscious is a tough topic to understand; since it plays such a large yet silent role in our life, I believe it is worth taking a deeper look into.

Cherry, Kendra. “Who Was Psychologist Harry Harlow?” Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2015. <;.

Harlow, Harry. (1958) The Nature of Love. American Psychologist, 13, 673-685.

Raghunathan, Raj, Ph.D. “The Need to Love.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 08 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2015. <;.

Sternberg, Robert J., and Michael L. Barnes. The Psychology of Love. New Haven: Yale UP, 1988. Print.


3 thoughts on “Chapter 7: Our Need for Love

  1. dgromels says:

    Hi Katelyn, I think you did a great job connecting your post for this week to the area of research in which you are interested. I wouldn’t have even thought to connect infatuation with music in the way you did, so it is a very interesting line of inquiry. Based on what you wrote, it seems like you are interested in how and why the ability to sing or create music makes a person more attractive. It has also bothered me throughout the book how most of the men love Roxanne, but they don’t have any appreciation for the traits that make her who she is, only her outward appearance and her ability to sing. It reminds me of the Gift Theory Dr. Pereira was talking about in class, so maybe you could look at the issue from that prospective, thinking about musical talent as a gift that can be shared through performance. Or maybe you could look at how music establishes an intimate connection between the artist and the listener, prompting the listener to feel as though they know the artist personally when in fact they have only seen the person on TV or in magazines.

    I am particularly fascinated by what you mentioned about the need for cultured theories of love since that was a topic that seemed to come up frequently in chapter seven. The Russian talks about “Russian love” and “American love,” while Mr. Hosokawa seems to display a passionate, but still definitively Japanese love for Roxanne. Thibault also seems to have a very French love for his wife, idolizing and appreciating her on a deep level while also managing to juggle affairs with various women. I would be interested to see if there is any scholarship on how people from various cultures need or experience love differently and perhaps you could find a way to tie this in to the research you are doing on music since you said you had found a book on music in different cultures.


  2. Michael Pedersen says:

    Love is often such a hard topic to pin down do to the vague meaning the word have have in a research context. That being said I’m quite interested by the research you presented in your post, especially the components of love research by Sternberg. As you mentioned, Roxanne definitely fits the model for infatuated love. What I wonder about however is if other characters, or more generally, different types of people align themselves primarily to different components of Sternberg’s components of love theory. For instance, do men see love differently than women and is there a possible perception difference given to education level?

    Much of the research you brought up is associated heavily with attachment and social integration among one individual. If you want to go the sociology route with this research you could look into how people seem to have a psychological need to be accepted by society and the people around them. In some sense of the word that kind of belonging is what makes love so desirable. If you do decide to go with the wider net of sociology to find if love is required then definitely look into Émile Durkheim and his work on social isolation and anomie. He is more a fundamental base of social theories than the end all be all source but he does provide a good launching pad for further research.

    Overall I found your research interesting and I’d love to see how much deeper you could go with it by examining the topic from more viewpoints. Whether that means branching off from research Sternberg was cited in or by shifting domains into the more social perspective.


  3. ballen68 says:

    Katelyn, I applaud you for taking up the topic of love as your research. So much of what we know about love is just theory. This does make it a great topic for you to explore since we truly can not come to a definitive answer of just about any question associated with love. There are so many avenues to take when researching love, but I enjoyed reading what you found on the necessity for love. I think it is pretty crazy that love is so critical to our psychological development, yet so many people are not privileged to receive it as others do. That also makes me wonder if there is a way of loving that makes you develop better or more efficiently psychologically. What happens when people don’t receive love once they have already developed psychologically? Can that still lead to death and many mental disorders like it does while in development as a child?Something that popped out to me while reading chapter 7 was the comment you mentioned Fyodorov made about Roxanne’s view of love being Americanized. Every culture expresses love in different ways, yet there are still some expressions of love that seem to be universal, such a physical touch and words of affirmation. How big are the differences of the ways people love each other across cultures though? Are there such differences between the ways some cultures love that they would not know when the other is expressing love for them? I would also be interested in seeing what the other 8 subsets of love are, I think that this could be something you consider as your final project, or just for fun as we keep going through Bel Canto.



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