Loving Each Other

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Heavily influenced by the work of Carl Rogers, Erich Fromm, Rollo May, and Desmond Morris, Leo Buscaglia is not attempting to contribute to the theoretical literature on the nature of human love. His book is eminently practical, focusing on the dynamics of relationships. Such a book is necessary because opportunities for lasting relationships are becoming rarer and rarer. In a highly mobile society, traditional neighborhoods and their binding relationships break down. Divorce rates have soared to fifty percent. Most couples receive no training in how to maintain their relationship, and they may even grow up with misleading myths that later confuse and embitter them.

It is possible, however, to enjoy a long-lasting and loving relationship, as Buscaglia suggests in his personal example of Tulio and Rosa Buscaglia, his poor but hardworking parents who met and married in a small Italian village. Their outgoing, expressive emotional style profoundly affected Buscaglia and became his model for the ideal relationship. This model was reinforced by the results of the six hundred questionnaires he received, which stressed communication, affection, and compassion as the key to successful relationships.

As the example of Tulio and Rosa suggests, Buscaglia’s approach is unapologetically personal. He shares information with the reader whenever it seems appropriate. Buscaglia’s stay in the hospital for a cardiac ailment becomes an object lesson in how to spread good cheer and, thereby, good health. His own family’s exuberant hugging and kissing inspires him to insist on more hugging in society which is deprived of physical contact. His emphasis on the need for ritual stems from memories of special meals with his family, who always celebrated and remembered even the smallest events in the life of the family.

Buscaglia, then, is always accessible and readable. He fashions the book from candid details of his own life, from a wealth of quotations derived from the questionnaires, and from a few learned remarks that serve as epigraphs to each chapter. It is impossible to read this book without some measure of self application and, more important, of self growth.