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Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard give a name to the kind, warm, tender, and affectionate love that babies expect before they can speak of it and that we all desire our whole lives long. As adults, they note, we all desire our whole lives long. As adults, they note, we don't often acknowledge or even understand our need for ...
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Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard give a name to the kind, warm, tender, and affectionate love that babies expect before they can speak of it and that we all desire our whole lives long. As adults, they note, we all desire our whole lives long. As adults, they note, we don't often acknowledge or even understand our need for this "cherishment." Their book is a rare effort to explore that need, to create a "psychology of the heart."
In Cherishment, Young-Bruehl and Bethelard provide a wholly original way of thinking about familiar concepts such as love, attachment, and care, showing how deep-seated disappointments and fears of dependency keep so many of us from forming healthy relationships. Questioning the traditional, celebratory view of independence and self-reliance, they argue that cherishment is the emotional foundation, formed in childhood, that sustains all kinds of growth-promoting adult bonds.
Blending the philosophical writing that has won Young-Bruehl international acclaim with Bethelard's imaginative sensibility, Cherishment is a finely balanced interplay of scholarship, dual-memoir, and intimate therapeutic tales. It draws on ancient wisdom traditions of the East and West, telling many instructive stories of men and women, young and old, who have learned to cultivate the cherishment instinct in themselves as well as in others. It helps readers attune sensitively to the ways people express their need for affection in the details of daily life and relationships. The book narrates ajourney of discovery, and any reader on his or her own journey in the realm of the heart will feel cherished by it.
Takeo Doi author of The Anatomy of Dependence What a surprise to find myself as a character in this very enjoyable book — a spiritual dialogue. The picture of amae — of the expectation to be loved — that appears in the authors' conversation is perfect.
Juliet Mitchell author of Psychoanalysis and Feminism Freud considered "the need to be loved" an original instinctual impulse, but his idea has not been seriously developed. Now, Young-Bruehl and Bethelard bring East to bear on West as they explore this neglected need. "Cherishment" is a concept and a word that will, I think, make a permanent mark on psychoanalytic theory and therapy. An important and moving contribution.
Nancy Chodorow author of The Reproduction of Mothering and The Power of Feelings Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard make a real contribution by developing a multifaceted account of the wish to be cherished and the caring behavior and feelings that express what they call "cherishment." Their book rewards readers with many compelling vignettes showing how being cherished fosters development and therapeutic change.
Kyle D. Pruett author of Fatherneed Once in a while, a new word is pulled into our language by the vital need to say something meaningful about the way we treat each other. In Cherishment, two brave, clever, compassionate friends narrate the birth and discovery of such a new word, weaving a unique East/West tapestry that helps us redefine intimacy. It's rare story, not to be missed.
The adolescence of our book threatened to be like contemporary adolescence: very prolonged. But once we got some perspective on it, realizing that our book was like a teenager, clamoring and sulky, demanding parental patience, competing for our attention, we gave it guidance. "The book is about cherishment," Faith reflected one evening over the telephone, "but the book is also about our creative processes, individually and together. We have to make that more explicit, and we have to let the chapters follow our creative course over time, while they are following the topical outline, the developmental outline that presents cherishment's growth over the life course, from infancy to adulthood. We have to present our ideas, but also make it clear when and how we came to them. They are not doctrine, they are our reciprocity and the reciprocity we want to establishwith our readers. Everybody in discovery mode." So, the fifth and sixth chapters of the book were focused on adolescence and on adulthood, and both contain our reflections on how cherishment develops over time into adult relationships, how it goes out into the world in its mature forms. Adolescence repeats the cherishment story of infancy, not in the closeness of the child-and-caretaker duo, but rather out in the world, in the search for adult relationships.
We converged on and through this big organizing thought of Faith's. And as we analyzed it, we realized that it had grown up from a desire she had not been conscious of: she wanted the book to be like an I Ching hexagram, in six chapter parts. Unconsciously, she had wanted her book to be like her teacher-book and reflective of what her teacher-book had given her, what she could give in a teaching-book. In an adult way, she had done a version of what the little girl did who received her mother's "Honey, honey" and then, having identified with the cherishing, reciprocated with her smiling "Bye-bye, honey."
After I thought for a while about this dynamic in Faith's creative life — her way of hearing a cherishing language and then speaking it, symbolizing in it — I told her that I thought we should take her symbolizing impulse right to its logical conclusion: we should interpret the six-chapter hexagram we had planned, consult it, ask it what it had to say for itself, and for us. I wanted to treat our book the way Carl Jung had treated the I Ching when he was writing an introduction to Wilhelm's translation of it. He considered the book "a method for exploring the unconscious," and I wanted to consider Cherishment both as an offspring, a green shoot, of King Wen's book and also as "a method for exploring the unconscious." So I suggested that we survey our six chapters, interpreting them as either Yang or Yin lines — that is, as lines of The Creative and The Receptive, heaven and earth, male and female, to see exactly which hexagram we were making and where our next development would lead.
This chapter, the first, the bottom line, we felt as a strong undivided line, a Yang line, arching under the whole territory of our conversation and creativity, representing a principle of movement and development. A birth, a creative thrust. The second chapter is the whole territory, too, but in the medium of theory building and focused on infancy. The middle two chapters about our therapy work are divided, yielding, listening, receptive. They are Yin lines, representing the principle of rest; representing amae moments rising up like peaceful pauses inside wild storms; representing earth. "The earth in its devotion carries all things, good and evil without exception." Chapter 5 about adolescence is a developmental Yang line, again a creative thrust, and we agreed that Chapter 6, on adulthood, the top line, the one we had planned but not yet drafted when we made our survey, should also be a Yang line. Thus we arrived at the sixty-first I Ching hexagram Inner Truth. This is made up of two trigrams, the top one being The Gentle, the eldest daughter — as I am — in the family of the primary trigrams, and the bottom one being The Joyous, the youngest daughter, which Faith considers her sign, as she is a youngest daughter. Inner Truth is a hexagram of two females, sisters, who meet around a receptive center — an image of creativity organized around a core of receptivity.
And the Inner Truth section of the I Ching also contains an image of mother-child cherishment, about which the commentary says "This is the affection of the innermost heart — to which it immediately juxtaposes an image of adult friendship or comradeship, implying that the two cherishment forms are invisibly connected:
A crane calling in the shade.
Its young answers it.
I have a good goblet.
I will share it with you.
This refers to the involuntary influence of a man's inner being upon persons of kindred spirit. The crane need not show itself on a high hill. It may be quite hidden when it sounds its call; yet its young will hear its note, will recognize it and give answer. Where there is a joyous mood, there a comrade will appear to share a glass of wine.
With Inner Truth as our guide, we set out on a working August vacation to Greece, to Homer's place, where we intended to draft the last chapter and to begin revising and refining the five underneath. This was to be a journey into the wider world, an odyssey. Our curiosity about how the last line would evolve, and how we would evolve with it, how our adulthood line would unfold, put us back into the frame of mind that we had been in the year before when we had originally recognized an ideal for ourselves and our work in Lao-tse's Tao Tê Ching, such a close cousin to the I Ching philosophically. Faith copied the poem about water wearing away stone into our notebook, and then another, quoted below. These poems went with us to Greece, to remind us there of the journey we had made already, through all the seasons since we first collected that Japanese beetle in New Haven, T. Doi.
Know the male,
yet keep to the female;
receive the world in your arms.
If you receive the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you will be like a little child.
Know the white,
yet keep to the black:
be a pattern for the world.
If you are a pattern for the world,
the Tao will be strong inside you
and there will be nothing you can't do.
Copyright © 2000 by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard