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Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness Paperback – January 3, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 2nd edition (January 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560256478
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560256472
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The idea that romantic passion is a mental illness may not be the most welcome message for Valentine's Day, but Tallis, a British clinical psychologist, acknowledges that it's a condition for which we may never want a cure. Tallis includes a good deal of research testifying to the obsessive nature and destructive power of romance. He begins by tracing the medical diagnosis of love based on physical symptoms to the Greek physician Galen. Leaning heavily on Darwin, Tallis considers the role of love in perpetuating the species: for instance, he notes, hidden ovulation in women (rather than the loudly advertised ovulation of chimpanzees, whose rear ends turn bright red) may secure a man's fidelity, since he doesn't know when she is most fertile. Based on the results of a survey conducted by a marketing consultant, the author surmises that men fall in love more often than women and experience the emotion more intensely. He also cites a study showing a low divorce rate in Asian cultures with arranged marriages as proof that these marriages are more satisfactory than Western marriages. Lauding rationality in the choice of a mate, he makes questionable comparisons between the role of dating services in the West and arranged marriages in the East. He ends this lively but not always convincing study with the unromantic conclusion that amity and mutual understanding must balance passion for love to last.
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I really hit bottom reading this book. it shattered alot of misconceptions and bad habits for me.
David Smith
The drive to "love" probably is mother nature's way of tricking overthinking humans into continuing the species.
Eva Sophia
Psychiatrically speaking, love and its symptoms can be objectively classified as a mental illness.
Max Nishimura

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By jonny_fred on August 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have sort of mixed feelings about this book. If you are struggling with a broken heart and the anguish that love can bring, this author portrays a deep understanding of the risks of loving passionately. The book is well researched and has a number of interesting references from history and literature. For me, this book served to illuminate that others have struggled in a similar way to myself.
Dr. Tallis is a British psychologist with a deep understanding of lovesickness, so I placed a lot of hope on finding answers here to help me overcome what has become a major wall in my life. I thought perhaps he knew a way to alleviate the psychic pain and give some semblance of peace of mind. I waited to reach that point in the book, and it never came. It ended, somewhat abruptly, and though there were parts that were quite validating, there was no suggestion of a plan to deal with the problem so aptly described. It is possible that the reason it fell short of providing this is because such a solution does not exist. If you are unlucky enough to know what I am talking about, you also may have a wound that will simply never heal.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Eva Sophia on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Well written clinical hypothesis that the emotion of love mimics mental illness long enough to twart judgment and cause people to bond and continue the species. Many of the cognitive reactions to a love object do resonate with symptoms of mental imbalance. The only cure seems to be the passage of time and the fading of the fantasy. Love in the romantic sense really is a mimicking of impaired judgment and impulse control because people have been known to do "crazy" things in the name of love - leave spouses for an inappropriate person, quit jobs to move to another country halfway around the world, buke convention, make silly public displays of affection that one day is a source of embarassment, etc. The drive to "love" probably is mother nature's way of tricking overthinking humans into continuing the species. So the next time you think its love, just remember you might just be crazy temporarily. In fact, unrequited love, puppy love, etc isn't really love, its just limerance mixed with fantasy. The dark side of love is its capacity to drive people to the depths of despair so often knowing its animbalance can help the lovesick heal out of "heartbreak" faster and easier. There is no heartbreak either, just a facet of the same "crazyness". Maybe one day modern medicine will create a medical cure so no one ever experiences heartbreak, heartache, or love's crazy impact on our better judgment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Max Nishimura on February 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one likes to admit they read self-help books. I sure don't. And since I'm a guy, I'm even more reluctant to pick up a book concerning love. But what's great about this book is its overarching academic tone that makes it much more accessible without feeling that guilt or shame of being a hopeless romantic looking to books for advice.

Have you ever been rejected by someone you really loved? Have you ever had to reject someone that really loved you? Very few escape it all-encompassing wrath. The book describes the experience of being in love akin to a mental illness - obsessive thoughts, erratic mood swings, weird impulses, delusions, the inability to concentrate - and I absolutely agree with his analysis. The roller coaster ride of ecstasy and despair, rapture and grief encapsulates my experiences with my ex to an uncanny degree. Why do we fall in love? What is love for? Do all cultures see love the same way? If you want to know the answers to these questions, I highly recommend reading this book. On the other hand, if you're wanting to know how to fall in love or how to deal with people who are in love, you should look elsewhere. If you're looking for answers to those kinds of questions, you won't find them here.

Perhaps the most noteworthy part of this book is its last chapter. Psychiatrically speaking, love and its symptoms can be objectively classified as a mental illness. And while many authors tend to embrace a patronizing stance on the matter and prescribe their own "cure" for the "problem," this kind of pejorative interpretation reflects nothing more than our own socially constructed attitudes. This author instead embraces love as a mental illness wholeheartedly as part of the human condition. Our extraordinary susceptibility to love suggests that it is somehow an adaptive trait. The author maintains that love, even if it's categorized in modern times as a mental illness, it is an evolutionary advantage.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By INTJ on October 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very well-written, thorough exploration of how romantic love has been experienced and regarded throughout history in different cultures. Drawing on an impressive store of knowledge of history, literature and psychology, the author makes a very persuasive case that romantic love is an evolutionary adaptation to encourage pair-bonding of sufficient length for the male of the species to participate in protecting and providing for offspring. Lest that seem utterly "unromantic," he makes a distinction between the white-hot infatuation of love at first sight and the more mature and prolonged "companionate love" that keeps couples together. It's fascinating the see the similarities between the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and manic-depression and the experience of being "love sick." If this were a standard textbook for first-year college students, it could save a lot of heartache and bad decisions.
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