I've been reading Erich Fromm's "The Art of Loving" on and off for the last few years, it's not a long book (only 133 pages), but its content is deep and rich--the kind you can't just walk away from and say "well, that was nice." I've been reading it slowly because I'd really like to be changed by it rather than read it like a textbook, which I'm good at forgetting about once my eyes have lifted from the page.
Fromm analyzed the shameful situation that occurred after Eve ate from the apple in the Garden of Eden, and noted how Adam was quick to blame Eve for her blatant sin of disobedience rather than defending her.
A lack of love created the separation between them and was replaced with shame, guilt and anxiety. Fromm said, "The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love--is the source of shame."
Fromm went on to say that the "deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness."
"Man--of all ages and cultures--is confronted with the solution of one and the same question: the question of how to overcome separateness, how to achieve union, how to transcend one's own individual life and find at-onement."
Fromm wrote about how people determine to throw off their loneliness and, in a sense, numb the longing that seeks union and atonement by indulging themselves with transitory "orgiastic experiences."
'While they try to escape from separateness by taking refuge in alcohol or drugs, they feel all the more separate after the orgiastic experience is over, and thus are driven to take recourse to it with increasing frequency and intensity," he wrote.
Not only does he talk about drugs and alcohol, but sex as well. Sex is the physical representation of throwing off separateness and becoming one, but Fromm wrote that the craving for sexual orgasm functions much in the same way as an alcoholic longing for a buzz, or an addict after his fix. Ultimately, the need for more of the preferred orgiastic experience increases as separateness remains and true oneness has not been achieved.
"The sexual act without love never bridges the gap between two human beings, except momentarily."