on January 1, 2014
Sue Johnson has a gift for presenting science with such delight and joy that it's like opening an extra special birthday present that the giver is as excited about as the receiver. In Love Sense, Sue opens up the science of love for all of us. She begins by pointing out that our first instinct is to seek contact and comforting connection rather than sex or aggression. This idea opens up a whole new arena for understanding behavior and interactions. The idea that we must stand alone and strive for independence falls away for the idea that what we all really need is closeness and comfort. We worry that if we are "too soft" that we will raise self centered people but, in fact, we are mostly driven to be empathic rather than competitive. Sue reveals the science of her ideas in much the same way that Richard Feynman reveals physics - with joy and engagement. Sue discusses emotion, the brain, sex, monogamy. She addresses many issues couples struggle with over a lifetime of partnership such as making a commitment, parenthood, coping with the empty nest, retirement. Along this journey, Sue explains the common cycles couples get into and the emotion that is underneath those cycles that drives them. She uses examples from her work with couples to demonstrate what happens in these dynamics and how attachment styles and needs affect each person. She slows down the dynamics and digs deep into the emotion and attachment needs to expose what reassurance or support is needed to circumvent the cycle. In chapter nine Sue tells a love story and describes a betrayal between a couple, the opening up, understanding what was happening between them that created the environment for this fracture to happen and then the repair. This will be a wonderful piece for our clients to read to begin to understand the opening that needs to happen when people have hurt each other. Sue moves on to expose many of the challenges we have in our ability to be present with those we love. Throughout this book, the conversational style Sue has, her deep understanding of her subject and her passion for this topic are palpable. This book will be a best seller and I believe that it will create the revolution Sue talks about. We will begin to find each other, open up to each other, expose our vulnerability, understand our emotions and heal our interpersonal fractures. Thank you Sue for caring enough to bring forward these important messages. This is a lovely, mesmerizing book.
on February 12, 2014
Without being too sappy or too stodgy, Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships (2013), by Sue Johnson, is a fascinating and heartwarming look at the phenomenon of love from a scientific perspective.
Citing ample research on primate development, neuroscience, and biochemistry, Johnson makes a compelling case that humans evolved to be monogamous rather than philanderous, interdependent rather than isolated, and that emotional connectedness to others is a testament to our strength rather than a sign of weakness.
Although the book does an excellent job extolling the importance of romantic relationships, it seems to marginalize those who are not in a strictly monogamous and long-term relationship and, also, errs on the side of being too permissive of clinginess and “you are my everything” enmeshment. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile read because it breaks down love in terms of cutting-edge science.
Building on the work of John Bowlby, Sue Johnson offers a compelling foundation from which to understand, and even enhance, love relationships: attachment theory. The basic premise of attachment theory is that human beings thrive on emotional connection to caregivers as babies and to romantic partners as adults. Inconsistencies in attachment bonds cause humans distress, particularly infants. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective since human infants are among the most helpless in the animal kingdom and are completely dependent on their parents’ care at birth. Instinctively knowing that abandonment spells death, we humans are wired to connect and we thrive when we have at least one significant other to trust.
I really enjoyed the parts of the book where Johnson examined the nitty gritty of what constitutes love. Humans are among the 3% of mammals that form monogamous pair bonds. The chemicals behind our desire to bond with one significant other include oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) and vasopressin (the mate-guarding hormone). These chemicals regulate stress and protect health. Having someone to trust and hold gives you the confidence to explore the world and to thrive as an individual. So, contrary to popular notions of independence, interdependence makes us strong rather than weak. This is good motivation to cherish a love relationship if you have one or honor your human need to connect with others.
Although I enjoyed the book overall, there were parts of the it that left me irked. The book started off well, in my opinion, as an insightful investigation into the nature of love. I was, however, disappointed that the author didn’t answer some lingering questions I had as I made my way through the book. For example, the author never addressed how singles could benefit from this new understanding of love. It seemed to undermine the dangers of relying on one person to be your anchor to the rest of humanity instead of cultivating a myriad of relationships and general community involvement. I also didn’t really care for her model of couple’s therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy. While it has a relatively high success rate compared to other modes of couple’s therapy, it seems too simplistic, vague, and naive. It would only work if both partners were committed to making their relationship work and sincerely wanted to restore a positive connection. I doubt it would work for people hellbent on “winning” at the other person’s expense. It works so long as both partners recognize each other’s humanity. Some people are simply abusive and see people as objects to manipulate. Others are simply too selfish to make the compromises necessary for an egalitarian, mutually beneficial partnership. Trusting such people would be destructive rather than healthy. So love isn’t the answer to every human problem.
Love Sense is a touching reminder of what really matters in this human life: meaningful connections to other people and the world at large. It inspires readers to cherish and make the most of the significant relationships in their lives, particular the romantic variety. I could also see this as a good reference for raising children, at least for explaining the implications of attachment theory in a child’s development. Johnson’s science is good, but the applications of this science leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, it’s an enlightening read and I would recommend it to people in good long-term relationships (i.e. those that are worth preserving and/or improving).
on January 14, 2014
As a Clinical Psychologist and Couples Workshop Leader, I am always looking for excellent books to share with my clients, colleagues, workshop couples and friends. Dr Sue Johnson's newest book, "Love Sense" brings the latest research findings about relationships, love, attachment and romance to the public. "Love Sense" is based on the leading scientific findings and is very engaging, easy to read, personable, accessible, informative, interesting and encouraging.
Actually, we enjoyed "Love Sense" so much that we purchased extra copies to give to our "Hold Me Tight Workshop" Couples as a Valentine's Day present. We recommend "Love Sense"and "Hold Me Tight" to all of our individual clients and couples too. So yes, we highly recommend the books, "Love Sense" and "Hold Me Tight" by Dr Sue Johnson for anyone interested in learning more about "Attachment Theory and Emotionally Focused Therapy" and especially for anyone interested in creating more loving, satisfying relationships!
on January 15, 2014
Reading this book is both soothing and exhilarating. What a comfort to learn that we are wired to connect and that we don't outgrow this need for close relationship in our lives. And how exciting to know that there is growing scientific evidence that supports this idea. AND, that we now know how to create more closeness and emotional security in adult love relationships!
Thank you Dr. Johnson for this engaging read, your passion and clarity hooked me from the introduction. The exercises at the end of each chapter were very useful.
I would recommend this book to any adult who is in or wants to be in a committed adult romantic relationship. Also highly recommend to any therapist, ministers, rabbi's, counselors who want to gain a deeper understanding of what causes couple's to distance and get caught in habitual conflicts. For anyone reading this book, the biggest bonus is that Dr. Johnson offers real world understanding, support by science, plus real world solutions that she's learned from the therapy she developed, E.F.T.
on May 4, 2014
Sue Johnson's perspective on relationship dynamics is core to our current scientific understanding of love. She writes well and persuasively makes her point that the need for bonding comes from deep instinctual roots, and when our bond with our beloved is threatened we respond typically with either a fight or flight response.
This is probably the most useful book I can recommend to my clients to help them understand the basic dynamics of loving relationships. This, and Dr. Johnson's previous book, - Seven Conversations - which is extremely helpful for couples who are working through distress. These two books are essential reading to anyone who wants to understand how love works and what often makes it go sour. Still, both these books can be difficult for the layperson to follow in places; and somewhat frustrating for the practitioner/scientist who wants really clear links to the research base she claims to depend on for her many assertions.
The book has a set of references for each chapter, but these are unfortunately for the entire chapter and are difficult to link with the many individual assertions she makes in each chapter. Thus it is unfortunately extremely difficult to follow how her "research-based" arguments and conclusions are really linked to research. This is particularly vexing in her chapter which asserts monogamy is essential to human bonding, which is a controversial issue.
Attachment Theory does not, of course, explain the whole mystery of love - as if anything really can. Readers who are looking for the "single silver bullet" to understanding their relationships and resolving relationship differences will be disappointed, although Johnson's work goes a long way toward this understanding. A convergence of contemporary theories on relationship goes further to this end. For example Harville Hendrix's work on Imago theory (based on Jung's Imago theory) is still essential to understanding how opposites attract (but you have to sort of subtract some of the rigid psychosexual developmental theory of Freud that Hendrix's work also hinges upon). Also, the work by John and Julie Gottman on what is needed to "Build a relationship house" is extremely helpful for couples who often lack a sense of basic direction and basic relationship skills - but of course the Gottmans' work is really a collection of useful observations rather than a cohesive theory about relationship and bonding. Sue John's work, and John Bowlby's work before her, prove a clear theoretical foundation for understanding relationships. You might think Sue Johnson's writings on attachment theory as providing the FOUNDATION upon which the work of Hendricks and the Gottman's can stand. Without the foundational understanding of attachment theory provided by Johnson the edifices built by Hendrix and the Gottmans can not stand firm.
on January 17, 2014
This is a landmark book. The solid research underlying this new understanding of love is astounding. But the best part is not that, it's how Sue Johnson includes stories about couples that makes it so profound. Great book for those struggling to understand about the mysteries of being "In love" feeling, about being bonded and attached and close. The author fleshes it out with live stories of couples she has counseled. The couples struggle to communicate and get it all wrong further pushing each other away - then they learn through attachment lenses how to talk to each other in a new way. It's beautiful. I recommend it for those newly in a relationship, for those insanely curious about couple relationships, and for couple therapists alike. It's a good read!
on January 26, 2014
Because I travel so frequently, listening to books on tape is the only way I often finish a book. So not only did I purchase Sue's ebook, I downloaded her audible version. Was I in for a treat! Sue's English brogue, engaging tone and delightful inflections convey her research in a compelling and hard to resist manner! Love Sense MAKES SENSE and seems to just resonate with our own profound needs for love, connection and contact with others in a non-pathologizing way! She offers hope to mend relationships that seem beyond repair as she shares current research as well as her personal and professional experiences to back her claims. Her voice draws you in and leaves you feeling like you are simply having a personal chat with her over a cup of English tea! I recommend if you have purchased and read the book, buy her CD or audible version and you will find yourself falling in love all over again with her well-researched, validated and hope-filled perspective on love! Thank you Sue for such a lovely gift of yourself not only to write but to read to us this much needed and longed for topic in today's struggling world!
on January 30, 2014
If you want immediate help in a distressed relationship, read Hold Me Tight first. If you want a bigger picture and a deeper understanding of why Hold Me Tight works, start here. Sue Johnson weaves decades of established psychological theory and research together with recent discoveries in neuroscience and her own research with couples. Listened on Audible and the author has a charming accent and I didn't realize she was reading until the end. Highly recommend.
on January 2, 2014
This book takes all the research and brain science of attachment and makes it accessible and easy to understand.
It comes across just how passionate and equally knowedgeable Sue is on Love, connection and couple distress. From the seasoned EFT therapist, to the struggling couple, this is a must read, a fascinating read, an educational read, and allows you to understand our human nature and inherent need for others at the most basic level. This book should be mandatory for all students who wish to make a career in the counseling field, especially those who wish to work with couples.
on January 14, 2014
It's hard to imagine that Dr. Sue Johnson could do it again after her 2008 book Hold Me Tight, but she has. Love Sense is a must read for anyone - she makes sense of love and offers compelling material backed up by decades of research to help couples be their happiest and healthiest together. Don't delay getting this book and reading it!!!