Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Love, Overview

  • Angelina BaydalaEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_346


Love is not a stand-alone concept but weaves together diverse meanings: sexual, romantic, parental, brotherly/sisterly love, love of God, and love of self. It is controversial whether these diverse kinds of love rightly share the same name.


Ancient Greek distinctions of love include eros, philia, and agape (Helm, 2009). Although there are clear behavioral differences, the theoretical distinctions can blur. Eros is passionate desire which is acquisitive, conditional on the value of the object loved, and somewhat selfish as it involves identification with the other. Philia also responds to the good qualities in another but is more affectionate than sexual. Agape is familial love experienced independent of the value of the object. While not necessarily rational, such love may be understood in terms of shared history.

Although recognized as overlapping in scope, Helm (2009) identifies four classes of theories of love: love as (1) union, (2) concern, (3) valuing,...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Psychologist, Independent PracticeEdmontonCanada