THE EFFECTS OF WANT OF LOVE By Fulton J Sheen
All the passages below are taken from Fulton J Sheen’s book “Way To Happiness.”
Most people in the world are unloved. Some do not make themselves lovable because of their selfishness; others do not have enough Christian spirit to love those who do not love them. The result is that the world is full of lonely hearts. Here we speak not of love in the romantic or carnal sense, but in the higher sense of generosity, forgiveness, kindness and sacrifice. Perhaps it would help some to know some of the psychological effects of not loving others in a really noble and unselfish way.
The first effect of not receiving love because one is generous and loving toward others is cynicism and even hostility. Never a good word can be said for anyone. Because one is unloved one tries to make everyone else unlovable. Characters are assassinated, the noblest motives reduced to the basest, and slanders believed and propagated. When others do show them kindness they look “for the catch in it”, even gifts are viewed with suspicion and the sincerest of compliments acknowledged with a charge of insincerity. Because such egotists are so miserable they seek to make everyone else miserable. Never once do they see that they are the cause of their own unhappiness. Someone else is always to blame. “I bumped into the other car, because you made me nervous this morning at breakfast by asking about my bank balance.” “I have a cold now because you did not give me a mink coat like the wives of the other officials have.”
And the effect of want of love is the martyrdom complex, which is a morbid attempt to get pity or sympathy when real love is gone. Feigning sickness is one of the tricks. Because good health does not win the affection of others, one pretends to be wounded in the firm hope that someone else will bind the wounds. The “pain” which is in the mind is loss of love. That “pain” is translated into the body and becomes sickness. If one could put into words what goes on inside of such a person it might be this: “I really want to be well. But if I become sick, then others must love me.” Just as headaches can be caused by a desire to escape responsibility, so disease can be caused by a desire to win affection. This reaches a point in some where they become bedridden for years or unable to walk. In the San Francisco earthquake it was said that over thirty people who had not walked in over a period of twenty years, got up and walked. These were mental, not physical cripples.
Another type of reaction is in those who admit that they need love, but say: “I will pretend from now on that I do not need it.” As a result they develop a false spirit of independence, become quarrelsome, oppose every idea and suggestion regardless of how good it is, develop anti-social instincts, smoke in front of no-smoking signs, and park in front of no-parking signs. Hardness and roughness and a certain toughness and boorishness of character are many times nothing other than a bold front for want of love.
It is very likely that the overemphasis on security in society today is due to a want of love. In other generations people wanted to be happy, and many of them were happy in the framework both of a family and of a permanent marriage bond, or in the embrace of religion. Now the instability of the home through divorce is increasing. A substitute must be found for married love, and it comes out in a ruthless quest for power and security which is only one of the lesser ingredients of happiness. The businessman who is completely lost in his business and stays at the office late hours rather than go home may sometimes be doing that to compensate for his want of love at home. Some doctors are now tracing some skin diseases to mental causes. It has been said that some people who are afraid to “face the world” develop skin blemishes. A “stained mind” becomes a “stained body”. Whatever be the medical evidence to support this view, it is true that no group of women seem to have complexions like nuns. Most nuns never look into a mirror, but they have one incomparably fine beauty aid which many other people lack, namely, a good conscience and peace of soul. The skin of those who suffer with a hidden sense of guilt almost tells the story of the diseases going on inside the soul. One person who had repressed guilt and kept saying to herself: “I am a moral leper,” developed a skin infection which vanished when reconciliation was made with her husband.
There is no cure for want of love but love. There will always be love for the lovable, but there will never be love for the unlovable unless we begin to love them for God’s sake. Thus we are brought back again to religion and to God Whose New Testament definition of His essence is: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). [58-60]