Whether meant literally or figuratively, Fromm is right. When lacking love the overwhelming sense of deprivation and our desperate search for it can only be explained by positing that love is life-sustaining nourishment like air, food and water. Without this nourishment we can but physically exist. Instead of flourishing a sad, joyless existence is all that can be expected.
How can we tell that ‘love’ exists as a thing? Until the development of certain technologies we could not see the atom, electricity, bacteria, light waves or sound waves. We could not see distant galaxies. We ask ourselves, did that mean they did not exist? No of course not, we simply could not see them.
Like air, food and water, love is an actual, physical, tangible energy which explains why we have an actual, physical, tangible reaction called PAIN, when we are deprived of Love. Love must be someTHING, because it would be impossible for us to react to – noTHING. Our reaction is visceral not a brain event or simply imagined. From The Law of Cause and Effect in physics, we know that we would not have the effect of feeling pain and deprivation, if it did not have a cause. The cause is being deprived of nourishing love.
Conversely, love produces a sense of warmth and being energized when we receive it and we thrive. This body experience is also visceral and not an imagined brain event. Our own experience sufficiently confirms that ‘Love is real and nourishment’, the Penicillin and Panacea of the self.
This brings us to the critical debate: is loving unconditionally possible? Since love is life-sustaining nourishment, by definition it must be available unconditionally. Could we live fully if air, food and water were ONLY conditionally and painfully available? So, too, with love. Conditional love is unacceptable. It is time to stop being imprisoned in our self-created, conditional world.
The consequences of being loved conditionally are many and affect all aspects of life. Feeling powerless to satiate this real ‘hunger’ causes anxiety, depression, stress, and lethargy that turns into high blood pressure along with other physical and mental illnesses these emotional states elicit.