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We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love
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We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  921 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Provides an illuminating explanation of the origins and meaning of romantic love and shows how a proper understanding of its psychological dynamics can revitalize our most important relationships.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by HarperOne (first published 1945)
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Holly Troup
Dec 28, 2014 Holly Troup rated it it was amazing
In this re-telling of the myth of Tristan and Iseult, Robert A. Johnson uses Jungian psychology to re-define what love should and can be.
Johnson traces the evolution of romantic love from its Cather/troubador origins in the twelfth century to modern times.
In medieval times, passionate love, in its ecstasy and suffering, was a means for transformation. The passion of love spiritualized the elect in anticipation of the ultimate transformation: Death.
In contrast, through the influence of romantic l
Feb 22, 2009 Cara rated it really liked it
Shelves: life-changers, life
Explains the roots of our modern notion of romantic love and why it's incompatible with everyday life. A bit unpleasant at first, but it offers the way out of the cycle of melodrama I've been living for the past 10-15 years. I call that a happy ending!

In summary, distinguish between the sacred and the ordinary. Have an inner life where you explore and respect the sacred and your own soul, rather than expecting another person to embody that for you. Keep your human relationships humble and down-
Jiyoung Park
Nov 14, 2013 Jiyoung Park rated it it was amazing
this book made me re-think about what love, relationships and companionship mean. He mentioned 'stirring the oatmeal' as a metaphor of human love, and it is absolutely true.

Here's my favourite part of the book :

“Many years ago a wise friend gave me a name for human love. She called it ‘stirring-the-oatmeal” love… Stirring oatmeal is a humble act—not exciting or thrilling. But it symbolizes a relatedness that brings love down to earth. It represents a willingness to share ordinary human life, t
Aug 31, 2012 Dasa rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Book largely based on transactional analysis, using Tristan and Isolde as a foundation for analysis of delusional concept of love.

I recommend this book to every person as I do all Johnson's books - He, She, Inner Work, Ecstasy, Transformation, and Owning Your Own Shadow. Johnson is a fine writer and great Jungian analyst.
Jun 30, 2009 Jeana rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the interplay of male/female jungian archetypes in relationships
It's a wonder the human race has survived at all. We certainly do like to torment each other ...
Sep 11, 2009 Emily rated it liked it
As I tried to rate this book just now, I hovered over the stars that read "It was okay" and "I liked it," back and forth, for a while. It was okay. And I liked it. I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked Robert Johnson's similarly titled books, He and She. We follows the same structure as the other two books, using a myth to help illustrate a psychological structure. In this case, he attempts to illuminate romantic love through the story of Tristan and Iseulde but he warns us female readers r ...more
Amy Goalen
May 12, 2013 Amy Goalen rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by my therapist and it was so incredibly eye opening. It gives a whole new perspective of what romantic love is and what we have come to believe that it is. It applies jungian principles to how we expect to play out the myths of fairy tales in our current love relationships. It also gives some real indicators of why so many marriages and relationships fail in our society. There is so much information to absorb in this 200 page book that I really want to read it a ...more
Dec 26, 2008 Denise rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
It gives a great perspective as to how we humans experience love. It also gives a good explanation of what is the difference between romatic love and, true and mature love. It talks about expectations, desires, passion, commitment, fears, etc. It helped me to understand why my love parners acted the way they did in our relationships, as well as why I kept fighting for those unfruitful relationships. ¡Trully interesting!
Jesse Winslow
Jul 15, 2010 Jesse Winslow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
When I first picked up this book I thought "Great. It's another one of those books where they try to symbolize every bit of a story. I continued to feel that way until about the middle of the book when I was hit in the face with some pointed remarks regarding romantic love, it's illusions, and the secrets to a long-term relationship. I ended up loving the book. Highly recommended.
Jan 13, 2010 Casey rated it it was amazing
The book exposes and exemplifies dysfunctional love using a timeless and famous medieval love story. In turn, it helps you to understand true healthy love. I strongly recommend this book to all enthusiasts seeking for an explanation of Love.
Amy Wilder
Nov 18, 2009 Amy Wilder rated it liked it
I stumbled on this on my parent's bookshelves right around the same time I was starting to feel like falling in love was what life was all about. Johnson, a Jungian psychologist, uses mythology to explain psychological truths. For a analytical kid like me, perfect light reading.
Aug 26, 2012 Sophie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
Still the only self-helpish book I've ever read that actually changed my life and my view of relationships. We are using readings from this for our wedding.
May 23, 2010 Snem rated it it was ok
I didn't really enjoy this book. Filled with a lot of stuff I didn't really understand and very little practical knowledge of which I didn't already know. I did enjoy the last chapter though.
Apr 20, 2011 Julie rated it liked it
I read this for its classroom value -- for both my Myth & Courtly Love classes. And it was useful and interesting. But I'm not a fan of Jung, so that bit got a bit old.
Mar 11, 2016 Kim marked it as to-read

"We often hear a man and woman trying to "settle things" by arguing, criticizing each other, talking logic, poking holes in each other's arguments, splitting hairs. Then they wonder why all the spontaneous feeling of love and warmth has gone out of their marriage or their time together! These kinds of negotiations are always "sword" activity; people are talking sword talk.
The sword can not build relationships: it can't settle anything, it can't bind together. It can only rip apart. If yo
Sep 01, 2015 Tamagochi rated it really liked it
Synopsis: romantic love is an illusion that we project on other people, therefore we would be better off by abandoning it.

While I am a bit skeptical about this message and do not agree by whole 100%, there were quite a few useful insights in the book. Such as striking similarities between feelings when we are in love and religious experience. I guess that was a strong argument for starting celibate practice in Catholic Church. The book also explains in detail the pitfalls of romantic love and ho
Greg Talbot
May 30, 2015 Greg Talbot rated it it was amazing
"I am weary, and my deads profit me nothing; my lady is far off and I shall never see her again. Or why for two years has she made no sign, or why has she sent no messenger to find me as I wandered?...I in my turn, shall I never forget she who forgers me? Will I never find someone to heal of my unhappiness?"

It may be too late for us. Our models for relationships are imbued with fantasy, unrealistic expectations and our hopes are unsatiated. We cast aside a breathing partner for the next fling th
Feb 17, 2013 Tomas rated it really liked it
Twee ideeën heb ik overgenomen na het lezen van We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love:

Eerst en vooral hoe en van waar de zoektocht naar een geliefde dateert - geschiedkundig als psychologisch. Daarboven heb ik door de geleende inzichten ook een ietwat andere kijk gekregen op het verschijnsel van verhalende relaties tot elkaar. De gebruikte symboliek achtte ik voor het lezen steeds secundair aan haar onderhoudende functie. Robert A. Johnson heeft me duidelijk gemaakt dat zelfs de mees
Rob Grady
Feb 20, 2016 Rob Grady rated it really liked it
The book recounts the tale of Tristan and Iseult, with chapters interspersed to explaining the origins of our notion of "Romance." The term "soul" is used with less and less frequency as the story develops, and words like "right" "wrong" "correct" and "incorrect" creep into the analysis. Tristan's harp is as valuable as his sword in his early quests, but when it comes time for the love potion to wear off, Tristan has no art to move to the next stage.

Johnson reassures us that the next stage inte
Apr 23, 2013 Bholdsworth7 rated it it was amazing
The concepts of love, romance, and relationship are explored using the story of Tristan and Iseult as a metaphor for our modern day experience and the struggle to find true meaning and happiness with another. Easy to read, yet powerfully expressed, the book contrasts the inner conflict we create in our desire for a loving relationship. We struggle with our romantic notions and confuse that desire for the simple and sacred power of accepting and valuing another person for who they are. Love is ...more
Sep 13, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an unbelievable read that I keep cognitively returning to, even after several years, now, passed having completed it. It really details and explicates in a very lyrical, beautiful, logistical manner the ways in which Western culture has divorced spiritual transcendence from religious ritual and projected it onto our romantic partners and into our intimate relationships, with disastrous results. The books succeeds in its most meaningful way when Johnson provides methods whereby we can ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Karen rated it liked it
This was recommended by a therapist and is very relevant, despite having been written in 1983. I would venture to say it might even be more relevant today than it was then. Our relationships are so influenced by what we see in the movies, on television, and in the magazines by the checkout aisles in the grocery stores that we often are disappointed in the way they've turned out. The author uses the tale of Tristan and Isolde to illustrate how falling "in love" is unreal and doesn't last or make ...more
Oct 13, 2011 Danielle rated it really liked it
Johnson has become one of my favorite authors. I appreciate the accessibility of his work and this book was no different in that regard. His treatment of the myth of Tristan and Iseult is not a literary criticism, but rather a psychological (Jungian) interpretation. "WE" is an interesting take on the notion of "romantic love" in the Western psyche, an exploration of the masculine dominated inner world of Western man and woman alike. Johnson attempts to explain how we can begin to regain balance ...more
Anwen Garston
I don't think I really got this book. Some parts are quite interesting. It talks a lot about men being obsessed with women being something that doesn't exist and how men are compelled to have affairs when they realise that their woman isn't some impossibly beautiful mystical being. I'm not a man so I don't know if that's true or not. It also talks a lot about people only being in love with people because they want that person to complete them in some way or are wanting to find themselves in ...more
Kerryn Ashford-Hatherly
A brilliant understanding of romantic love

You need to understand Jung to really absorb the gold in this book. It really captures what we see continuously in our western society with intimate relationships ending so too often. It also gives insight in to what we do to our partners in the search for ourselves. It shows how we destroy life especially by following our projections but also how we can deplete another person when they carry our projections.
I believe the final sentence really sums up t
Dec 01, 2015 Erin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Heather Gottfried, Wendy Racine
Recommended to Erin by: Sabrina
Wow, all of Robert Johnson's books that I have read have been incredible. So clarifying on my human journey so far, validating what I've learned through my own experiences already, and providing clarity and a road-map on that which I have to figure out and that which is yet to come for me. This book is like a place-marker for where one is in the experience of relationship and love. EVERYONE in Western culture needs to read this in order to understand the implications of misunderstandings about ...more
Jul 04, 2013 David rated it really liked it
A book about how the story of Tristan and Iseult was
at the origin of the occidental roman and therefore the shaping of the romantic mind of
the Western man/woman, how it became an unescapable part of our soul
and how we should therefore try and "deal" with it.
Sometimes a bit repetitive and simplified and too tainted by
religion for my own taste, but the approach was positive, very didactic (so much it sometimes
felt like reading a manual of well being) and the subject...well, do we ever know enoug
Nov 03, 2014 Justin rated it really liked it
A really beautiful and engaging book that deserves your slow and steady attention. Using Jungian psychology and the story of Tristan and Isulet the author takes a deep and probing look into the western views of romantic love. Really enjoyable and eye opening and I highly recommend it. My only gripe with the book is that it still presents love in a very flowery romantic way and this should be balanced out with in my opinion some of the more animal and evolutionary ideas of sexual selection ...more
Willonda Camille
Sep 09, 2009 Willonda Camille rated it liked it
nice insight into the origins of the western idealization of love, and its dynamic persistence until modern times. have to admit, after reading this book, romantic films are all 'blah!' now lol. jung fans will enjoy his use of mythology, and break down of the archetypes of tristan, isolde, and the king. enjoyed the book, but i have to say throughout the read, heavy patriarchial lens is noted. feminists, take that as you will, and enjoy if you can. :)
Gina Whitlock
Mar 04, 2015 Gina Whitlock rated it really liked it
This book uses the myth of Tristan and Iseult to distinguish between romantic love and "human" mature love. Robert Johnson writes we must have an inner life where we explore and respect the sacred in our own life and soul, rather than expecting another person to embody that for us. He says keep our human relationships humble and down-to-earth. When we quit trying to mix the two, we lose the drama and the drug-like high of relationships, but we gain reality.
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Robert A. Johnson is a noted lecturer and Jungian analyst in private practice in San Diego, California. He has studied at the Jung Institute in Switzerland and at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in India.
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“Animus is the soul in woman just as anima is the soul in man. Animus usually personifies himself as a masculine force and appears in women’s dreams as a masculine figure. Women relate to their animus side differently than men relate to anima, but there is one thing that men and women have in common: Romantic love always consists in the projection of the soul-image. When a woman falls in love it is animus that she sees projected onto the mortal man before her. When a man drinks of the love potion, it is anima, his soul, that he sees superimposed on a woman.” 3 likes
“Özverinin kanunu şudur: Eğer bir erkek yanlış düzeyde sahip olduğu şeyden vazgeçerse, bu ona doğru düzeyde iade edilir.” 1 likes
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