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A General Theory of Love Paperback – January 9, 2001
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Poor, poor science--it gets blamed for everything. While it might be true that some of our alienation and unhappiness stem from a too-rational misunderstanding of emotion, it's also true that science is its own remedy. A General Theory of Love, by San Francisco psychiatrists Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon, is a powerfully humanistic look at the natural history of our deepest feelings, and why a simple hug is often more important than a portfolio full of stock options. Their grasp of neural science is topnotch, but the book is more about humans as social animals and how we relate to others--for once, the brain plays second fiddle to the heart.
Though some of their social analysis is less than fully thought out--surely e-mail isn't a truly unique form of communication, as they suggest--the work as a whole is strong and merits attention. Science, it turns out, does have much to say about our messy feelings and relationships. While much of it could be filed under "common sense," it's nice to know that common sense is replicable. Hard-science types will probably be exasperated with the constant shifts between data and appeals to emotional truths, but the rest of us will see in A General Theory of Love a new synthesis of research and poetry. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The Beatles may have sounded naive when they assured us that "all you need is love," but they may not have been far off the mark. New research in brain function has proven that love is a human necessity; its absence damages not only individuals, but our whole society. In this stimulating work, psychiatrists Lewis, Amini and Lannon explain how and why our brains have evolved to require consistent bonding and nurturing. They contend that close emotional connections actually change neural patterns in those who engage in them, affecting our sense of self and making empathy and socialization possible. Indeed, the authors insist, "in some important ways, people cannot be stable on their own." Yet American society is structured to frustrate emotional health, they contend: self-sufficiency and materialistic goals are seen as great virtues, while emotional dependence is considered a weakness. Because our culture does not sufficiently value interpersonal relationships, we are plagued by anxiety and depression, narcissism and superficiality, which can lead to violence and self-destructive behaviors. It is futile to try to think our way out of such behaviors, the authors believe, because emotions are not within the intellect's domain. What is needed is healthy bonding from infancy; when this does not occur, the therapist must model it. The authors' utopian vision of emotional health may strike some as vague or conservative to a fault, and the clarity of their thesis is marred by indirect and precious writing. Yet their claim that "what we do inside relationships matters more than any other aspect of human life" is a powerful one. Agent, Carol Mann. 9-city author tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
In short, whether you're a happy, well-adjusted person, or a total mess wondering what went wrong in your life to leave you this way, you'll learn a lot from this book.
Note: I would have given this book 5 stars except for their use of backwards endnotes, which are frustratingly difficult to trace back to their referents.
My only complaint was that he didn't finish with the Shema and John 3:16; but this is a science book, and he leans on Darwin instead of on God. Nonetheless, the work begins in the practical and soars into the profound. It will be left to the reader to see how God fits into the picture. Yet the picture Lewis paints is compelling. Once he explains love in the human brain, any God-fearing soul can see why God calls us to love.
It is a general theory of love written by psychologists who looked for research to support their theory. I think it makes a lot of sense.
I wish i had read this book while i was studying to become a Social Worker.
The book confirms for me much of the theory i had developed on my own about why people choose who they do and after divorcing them, choose someone just like their first partner.
The way out according to the authors is either psychopharcology, medication, or a good theraputic relationship with either a support group, friend or therapist.
Big take away, "Be in relationships with people that help you manage your self and stop trying to manage other people."
Con: might be too technical for the casual reader, having a background in psychotherapy and or neuro-science helps one digest the material.