Love is a complex subject. Since the beginning of humankind, love has been an important ideal for human beings. Religions used the power of love in a normative way to give people a good purpose, to create a humane and prudent life in the community.
But this ideal is in constant threat. Love remains an ideal that every human being has to work out anew in every generation. What couples have understood as a certain wisdom in their experience must be passed on to next generations. In the process, the wisdom of love is lost on an ongoing basis. It is evident that it cannot be learned from books alone; love must be practiced and discovered in relationships. All knowledge about it would only increase the longing immeasurably without satisfying it.
Art and literature depict myriads of the difficulties and dramas in love relationships since time immemorial. If we had found a remedy for difficulties in love relationships, as Ovid tried to do 2000 years ago in his early works Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris, we would live in a better world.
From Love to the Capacity to Love
Love is a two-way process between people, one-way idealizing love is possible, but unrequited it remains deeply painful. Love is therefore not a mere giving, but also an art of its receiving. The development of philosophy and neuroscience and the understanding of the reflective subject have significantly expanded the understanding of interdependent processes between subject, self, and object. Even more, psychoanalytic theories of the psychodynamics of the unconscious of couples, most notably object relations theory and intersubjective theory have enabled a new conception of the subtle processes that make it clear that love requires conditions of possibility to love. To look even closer into the psyche, love needs psychic conditions, indeed psychic capacities to take and give love.
The work of the Capacity to Love Research Lab
Since its inception in 2014, the CTL Research Laboratory has been able to attract many international researchers who have set out on the trail of the capacity to love.
Among other things, the careful review of the psychoanalytic literature on couple relationships has made it possible to operationalize a concept of the capacity to love. That is, a questionnaire has been developed, but most importantly, a compelling concept of CTL has been confirmed. This concept, based on the clinical experience and theory synthesis of Prof. Otto Kernberg and others, has proven to be scientifically and empirically grounded and has driven the work of the CTL Research Lab over the last years.