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A 400-page volume, it is the most complete and systematic of Alberoni's works on the love theme. The processes or mechanisms that create love bonds are of four types. The first is the pleasure principle. We bond with those who give us pleasure. It is the process on which a child's love for its mother is founded. In adult life the bonds based on the pleasure principle are fragile because they can break when pleasure ceases. The second mechanism is that of loss. We bond more with love objects which escape us, that are taken away from us. The third mechanism is indication.

We tend to desire what is indicated to us by others as being endowed with value. The fourth mechanism is the nascent state, which transfigures the loved object and enables us to fuse with it. It is only when the fourth mechanism (the nascent state ) is in action that we really fall in love. If only one of the first three is in action we experience infatuations erotic infatuation in the case of the pleasure principle, competitive infatuation if the mechanism of loss is at work, and star infatuation if it is the mechanism of indication. Erotic exploration is always in action, but it usually stops short at the level of attraction and crushes. In some cases it may become a deep, insistent desire - infatuation, but it seldom develops into a real case of falling in love, that is through the nascent state, involving: inner change, death and rebirth. The latter can be distinguished from infatuations because it is accompanied by the experience typical of the nascent state (reality-contingency, metaphysical experience, historicizing etc). Infatuations tend to disappear abruptly. The erotic kind vanishes when it comes up against frustration, the competitive kind when it has achieved its aim. Then there are other forms of pseudo-falling in love, such as consolatory love.

We defend ourselves against falling in love , but when our defences are lowered for a moment we may experience sudden revelations (love at first sight). If the process continues we start to test ourselves to find out if we are really in love, and to test the other for reciprocity. Then the fusion process begins, from which a common project must emerge. It is the stage known as fighting the angel, a love struggle through which each is obliged to change. Finally there is the pact, in which each embraces the rights and essential aspirations of the other. In this way the institutions of living together are born. If , on the other hand, the individual projects are incompatible, there comes a point of no return and the extremely painful process of renunciation.

The book then deals with winning and winning back, the formation of the couple, forms of life in common, fidelity and infidelity. It then goes on to study the phenomenon of early crisis in the couple, which usually derives from the fact that in one or both members the love process has not reached the stage of real falling in love and its institutionalization. The late crisis, on the contrary, is due to divergent evolution, and the failure of co-evolution. The book ends with an analysis of the dynamics of the couple who remain in love.

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