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The chief key to the relationship between love and pain is to be found in animal courtship

The chief key to the relationship between love and pain is to be found in animal courtship The chief key to the relationship between love and pain is to be found in animal courtship
Source : Moises Mahiques via Pinterest
Love and Pain
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Love and Pain
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#Animals
#mating (biology)
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Among mammals the male wins the female very largely by the display of force. The infliction of pain must inevitably be a frequent indirect result of the exertion of power. It is even more than this; the infliction of pain by the male on the female may itself be a gratification of the impulse to exert force. This tendency has always to be held in check, for it is of the essence of courtship that the male should win the female, and she can only be won by the promise of pleasure. The tendency of the male to inflict pain must be restrained, so far as the female is concerned, by the consideration of what is pleasing to her. Yet, the more carefully we study the essential elements of courtship, the clearer it becomes that, playful as these manifestations may seem on the surface, in every direction they are verging on pain. It is so among animals generally; it is so in man among savages. "It is precisely the alliance of pleasure and pain," wrote the physiologist Burdach, "which constitutes the voluptuous emotion."

Nor is this emotional attitude entirely confined to the male. The female also in courtship delights to arouse to the highest degree in the male the desire for her favors and to withhold those favors from him, thus finding on her part also the enjoyment of power in cruelty. "One's cruelty is one's power," Millament says in Congreve's Way of the World, "and when one parts with one's cruelty one parts with one's power."

At the outset, then, the impulse to inflict pain is brought into courtship, and at the same time rendered a pleasurable idea to the female, because with primitive man, as well as among his immediate ancestors, the victor in love has been the bravest and strongest rather than the most beautiful or the most skilful. Until he can fight he is not reckoned a man and he cannot hope to win a woman. Among the African Masai a man is not supposed to marry until he has blooded his spear, and in a very different part of the world, among the Dyaks of Borneo, there can be little doubt that the chief incentive to head-hunting is the desire to please the women, the possession of a head decapitated by himself being an excellent way of winning a maiden's favor. Such instances are too well known to need multiplication here, and they survive in civilization, for, even among ourselves, although courtship is now chiefly ruled by quite other considerations, most women are in some degree emotionally affected by strength and courage. But the direct result of this is that a group of phenomena with which cruelty and the infliction of pain must inevitably be more or less allied is brought within the sphere of courtship and rendered agreeable to women. Here, indeed, we have the source of that love of cruelty which some have found so marked in women. This is a phase of courtship which helps us to understand how it is that, as we shall see, the idea of pain, having become associated with sexual emotion, may be pleasurable to women.

Thus, in order to understand the connection between love and pain, we have once more to return to the consideration, under a somewhat new aspect, of the fundamental elements in the sexual impulse. In discussing the "Evolution of Modesty" we found that the primary part of the female in courtship is the playful, yet serious, assumption of the role of a hunted animal who lures on the pursuer, not with the object of escaping, but with the object of being finally caught. In considering the "Analysis of the Sexual Impulse" we found that the primary part of the male in courtship is by the display of his energy and skill to capture the female or to arouse in her an emotional condition which leads her to surrender herself to him, this process itself at the same time heightening his own excitement. In the playing of these two different parts is attained in both male and female that charging of nervous energy, that degree of vascular tumescence, necessary for adequate discharge and detumescence in an explosion by which sperm-cells and germ-cells are brought together for the propagation of the race. We are now concerned with the necessary interplay of the differing male and female roles in courtship, and with their accidental emotional by-products. Both male and female are instinctively seeking the same end of sexual union at the moment of highest excitement. There cannot, therefore, be real conflict. But there is the semblance of a conflict, an apparent clash of aim, an appearance of cruelty. Moreover,--and this is a significant moment in the process from our present point of view,--when there are rivals for the possession of one female there is always a possibility of actual combat, so tending to introduce an element of real violence, of undisguised cruelty, which the male inflicts on his rival and which the female views with satisfaction and delight in the prowess of the successful claimant. Here we are brought close to the zooelogical root of the connection between love and pain.

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