Love, the "head over heels" variety, may be madness, sickness, a form of addiction, an inherited survival characteristic or a cultural invention, writes psychologist Paul Chance in the current "Psychology Today."
Chance, who writes that romantic love strikes him as something like "boils, hemorrhoids or gout," also confesses that nobody sends him valentines anymore.
Even as he describes love as akin to shark's feeding frenzy, he admits he might feel differently if "once in a while somebody, anybody, would send me a valentine."
Chance appears to embrace the theory of love proposed by psychologist Lawrence Casler, a theory known as cultural invention. Writes Chance: "People have an innate craving for sexual stimulation, but puritanical Western societies like ours make sex taboo. So . . . they have to find some way of overcoming their guilt. That is where love comes in. People justify taking their pleasures with one another by becoming ga-ga about each other. We pretend that lust is the by-product of love, when in reality love is the by-product of lust."
It is fitting, says Chance, that St. Valentine is the symbol of love. "He was a Christian physician who was beaten and beheaded by the Romans in 269," he writes. "Who better to be the patron saint of lovers than a man intimately acquainted with pain?"
Valentines may be sent to Chance in care of Psychology Today.