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Love Decoded

Laurie Agard: A courageous group of highly credentialed scholars from almost every discipline imaginable are coming together for a weekend in New York to try and decode love!

At a time when media is consumed with images of violence, competition, and hate—here’s some loving news for a change.

Love Decoded

A courageous group of highly credentialed scholars from almost every discipline imaginable are coming together for a weekend in New York to try and decode love!

What is love?

Stefan Deutsch, President, THDC 5

Stefan Deutsch, President, THDC 5

In 2014 the number one search phrase on Google was – “What Is Love?”

Stefan Deutsch, Psychotherapist, President of the Human Development Company, believes people are asking What love is because they don’t know the answer. That’s why he’s organized the The First International Symposium Toward a Unified Science of Love.

“At a quick glance you might assume people are asking Google because they’re looking for relationships. But there’s already an abundance of clubs, bars, dating sites, places of worship, and even the workplace where people can go to meet and find others to love,” Deutsch says.

Certainly most of the 7 billion people on the planet would agree it’s hard to live without love. But why is it important to define it and understand what it is?

Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. and Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.

Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. and Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.

The negative consequence of our lack of knowledge of what love is “conditional love” rather than being able to love unconditionally. The results of this are many and painful. Families fall apart because of divorce. People become addicted to drugs and alcohol. And a number of other issues are linked to our lack of knowledge about love: obesity, workaholism, depression and anxiety, burnout, stress, domestic violence, suicides, murders, and even war.

Jean Watson, Ph.D.

Jean Watson, Ph.D.

Erich Fromm said, “Human beings are starved for love”, which turns out to be true literally, not figuratively. And people’s experience is one of being deprived of love, with no control over changing this unsatisfying and painful state.

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So Deutsch has brought together an esteemed group of people – each with uniquely different backgrounds and approaches – to begin to solve the enigma. “Love has many names,” he says, “Forgiveness, belongingness, the supreme emotion, caring, compassion, altruism, empathy, kindness, intimacy, relationship, happiness.” The collective mission of this first international symposium is to define love, create a common language and terminology, initiate research, and develop tools that will facilitate people getting and giving love they deserve in a way that meets their needs.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Today we know that one reason loving behaviors feel good is because they help us generate important hormones for wellbeing and healing. This includes oxytocin ‘the love hormone’ and vasopressin. They also generate endorphins that lower our blood pressure and reduce stress. Deutsch believes we need to incorporate this new science into our definition of love, agree on common terminology, and develop the tools that will help people behave more lovingly to self and others and break the cycle of dependency.

This ambitious undertaking will be truly a ‘labor of love’ because the psychologists, philosophers, artists, researchers, authors, and participants from highly diverse walks of life will have to open their hearts and minds to new concepts in order to arrive at a unified theory.

“This will be the first step toward establishing a serious science,” Deutsch says. “Once love is defined, we can begin collaborative research in earnest and develop the language and tools that will help every person give and get all the love they need and deserve. We’d never accept having every cardiologist have their own definition of the heart or how it functions. That’s not science!”

But is defining what love is possible? Some people think not. “Some question whether it is possible for us to unite,” Deutsch admits, “But they questioned us getting to the moon, too.”

The symposium is being held in The Bohemian Hall in Manhattan, NY on June 26. In addition to decoding love, they will be honoring: Harville Hendrix, PhD; Helen La Kelly Hunt, PhD; Jean Watson, PhD; and Oprah Winfrey for their tireless work to bring love, compassion, and understanding to humanity.

Who are the Confirmed Participants?

  • Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. – Getting The Love You Want – Founder of Imago Couples Therapy
  • Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. - Getting The Love You Want - Founder of Imago Couples Therapy
  • Fred Luskin, PhD - Professor, Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project; Forgive For Love
  • Kristin Monroe, Ph.D. - Professor, Director, UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality; The Heart of Altruism
  • Ivel De Freitas, M.D. - Founder - Leaf It Up Med Spas
  • Joseph Lao, Ph.D. - Professor, Hunter, CUNY - ParentingLiteracy.com
  • Eva M. Selhub, M.D. - Professor, Harvard; The Love Response
  • Jean Watson, Ph.D. - Professor, Founder Watson Caring Science Institute; Caring Science, Mindful Practice
  • Jacqueline Carleton, Ph.D. - Founding Editor, International Body Psychotherapy Journal
  • Lynn Underwood, Ph.D. - Professor – Case Western Reserve U., The Science of Compassionate Love
  • Eva Kahane, Ph.D. - Distinguished Professor - Case Western R.U. - Pierce and Elizabeth Robson Professor of Humanities & Sociology
  • Tiffany Field, Ph.D. - Director, The Touch Research Institute, at the University of Miami School of Medicine, HeartBreak
  • Agnieszka Jaworska, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Philosophy, UC Riverside, www.loveandhumanagency.org
  • Kailen Rosenberg – Master Life Coach, Real Love, Right Now: A 30-Day Blueprint for Finding Your Soul Mate And So Much More (Simon & Schuster)- Star of “Lovetown, USA” on the Oprah Winfrey Network and BBC Worldwide
  • Daniel Harrison Sumner Smyth, Ph.D. – Cornell University, Philosophy
  • Julie Tannenbaum, Ph.D. – Assoc. Professor – Pomona college - Philosophy
  • Cecilea Mun, Ph.D. – Asst. Professor - St. Mary's College – Philosophy
  • Stefan Deutsch – Gestalt Psychotherapist – I Know You Love Me & You Know I Love You

A small “audience of 100 people will also be given the opportunity to provide feedback and input. For venue and ticket information.

Laurie Agard