A Theory on Love & Power (Part 1)
Updated: Aug 29
What is love?
Oh baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
You may remember this song by Haddaway (1993), the Trinidadian-German pop artist. If you were a child of the late 80s and early 90s like me, it was a chance to get wild on the dance floor. But I’m not sure if Haddaway realized just how profound the lyrics are, in that they -in such simple ways - describe the dynamic of love and pain in which the world has struggled since the dawn of time.
What is love? Quite simply, it’s energy.
And what is the manifestation of love-energy? Power.
As a mental health counselor and university professor, I’ve been a student and a teacher of power my entire career. I’ve studied the theories and the writers - Foucalt, the feminists. I’m an American woman living in the era of the Trump presidency, for heaven’s sake! I can’t escape power … and neither can you.
Power is an energetic experience of every human in every moment. And yet, we do not understand it well: where it comes from, how it works, how to benevolently get it, and how to use it for good. The misuse of power is what causes pain - deep pain as evidenced by the state of our world today.
We need a better way. So, I've constructed a theory on love and power:
Love itself is the strongest power. In it, by it, and for it the universe came into existence. Love is expressed and experienced in different forms. The ancient Greeks had four primary words for love: agape, eros, philia, and storge, each which have a unique intention and different expressions. (Click to my Glossary to find out what these terms mean.)
Agape, often considered Divine, creates "transcendent union." Agape is the most powerful love, or the highest power, because it allows people to live in responsible freedom with unconditional acceptance. In other words, I am free to be me and you are free to be you, and we are loved ... because we are love. In full intimacy, 1 + 1 = 1. It is a spiritual love that ultimately is referred to by prosocial religious and spiritual teachings, both Western and Eastern.
The experience of agape love is a longing within the heart of every human, but it is not achieved unless the other three forms of love are integrated and balanced. It is hard to attain within the 3D experience, which is why it is spiritual and transcendent.
Agape is VIOLET energy.
The three forms of love - eros, philia, and storge - are equal in importance but unequal in power. Neither of these forms of love are higher or better than the other, but they exist on a hierarchy until they are fully integrated into agape love.
Storge, “family love” or the kind of love that creates bonds, is motivated by survival and growth. It is the most necessary form of love, because without it humans would die. Storge love meets our basic needs, both physically and in identity, e.g. "the family crest." Its intention is providing, and its power comes through the body, muscle power, or physically showing up. But while the image is strength, storge is actually the weakest form of power, which is contrary to what is currently expressed in our culture.
Storge is RED energy.
Philia, “brotherly/sisterly or friendship love,” the love of negotiation, is motivated by protection. It helps humans create psychological boundaries so that we can keep ourselves emotionally safe and mentally thriving. It allows for expanded thinking/consciousness and exploration. It’s power comes through the mind, which would not be possible unless we were assured of survival. This is why it is more powerful than storge love. But while philia is conscious, intelligent, and creates opportunity, philia is not the most powerful.
Philia is YELLOW energy.
The most powerful of these three is eros, “passionate love,” which is motivated by oneness. Its power comes through the heart. When enlightened, it connects humans and expands intimacy. It is pivotal in creation. Eros is not essential for survival or sustainability, but without it, life is grayscale. Eros love transforms, and thus it is more powerful than storge and philia.
Eros is GREEN energy.
The power of eros love-energy comes from the heart. This is where we get the term "heart-centered."
Haddaway was right - love can be very painful! That's because power generated in the shadow is oppressive. In part 2 of a Theory on Love & Power, I’ll explain the power hierarchy and how it can be used to heal and not hurt. Until then, bust out some moves with this compilation of cool 90s dance music, Haddaway included:
Amy O'Hana is a writer and a teacher. Find her and other posts like this one on the web at amyohana.com