Causes: Lovelessness (Notes from Status Anxiety)

Notes from Alain de Botton’s Status Anxiety (2004). The book generally aligns with mimetic theory and Girardian ideas; I’ve added a G near comments that seem to do so particularly.

This is the second post on this topic; the first is here.

CHAPTER 1 – LOVELESSNESS

Each adult is defined by two great love stories, (1) the quest for sexual love, and (2) the quest for love from the world. The first is acceptable and celebrated; the second is secret and shameful.

Love is a kind of respect, a sensitivity on the part of one person to another person’s existence. It’s attention, the feeling that one is the object of concern, that one’s presence is noted, ones views are listened to, ones needs are ministered to. The loved one feels the “benevolent gaze of appreciation.”

The impact of low status is not primarily material for most people. It’s in the challenge that it poses to one’s sense of self-respect. We will sustain many material hardships if we have an awareness of being held in esteem by others.

Being ignored drives us to “rage and impotent despair,” said William James, in The Principles of Psychology, 1890. James also argued that “The attention of others matters to us because we are afflicted by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value.” G Others’ judgments and responses to us hold us captive.

The place we occupy in the world determines how much love we are offered and in turn whether we can like ourselves or lose confidence in ourselves.

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