As humans, we spend our entire lives searching for what we call ‘love’, to such an extent that many people believe that giving and receiving love is the only thing that really matters in life. Love often guides us in a certain direction, and we follow it even if we do not know where it will take us, so it ends up shaping our entire life. Humans have not yet found a definitive or universal answer to the question ‘what is love?’, but we do know that it is extremely important to all of us, from the day we are born.
Children and babies need love more than anyone, because they would not be able to survive without external help, but they are also the least aware and most impressionable. This dynamic has been studied extensively over the years.
Scientists initially focused on biological and genetic factors, as they hoped to find the answers in our DNA, but their studies were largely unsuccessful. Researchers then began to realise that the environment in which children grow up is capable of strongly influencing their development. They began to see children as blank slates, on which their family and society could write whatever they wanted, but this was not exactly true either.
Eventually, a number of experts began to analyse our inner, unconscious drives, and suggested that they were responsible for the child’s development. They observed the influence of the mother-child relationship on the child, and discovered the mental and psychological mechanisms that shape our capacity to love and to be loved. Scientists soon realised that the mother figure plays a crucial role in the affective development of her child, and that much of a child’s future ability to give love to themselves and to others can actually be traced back to this relationship.