Critical Love Theory (CLT) is a concept I have been developing since August of 2013. It involves recognition of what love is not and attempts to identify spaces where there has been a lack of love in order to actually grow love in those spaces.
In All About Love, bell hooks writes of love being unable to exist in places where abuse and neglect reside. A Critical Love Theory framework is grounded in the belief that knowledge of self informs is necessary for self-determination. Paulo Freire also wrote about education requiring and fostering love.
“Know thyself in order to serve” is a phrase I learned from a school I taught at that used the phrase as a slogan. Building on the implications of this slogan, the practice of Critical Love calls for reflection and dialogue in order to identify harm experienced through past and current abuse and neglect, paying close attention to trauma experienced. Moving from identifying instances trauma, abuse and neglect, reflection, dialogue, and deep study of the impact and contributing factors to trauma, abuse and neglect ensues. Through recognition of injury, then development of deep understanding of the harm experienced, reflection, dialogue and resources are used to locate where love has been lacking and where it must be grown.
Through locating spaces where the growth of love would be appropriate or needed given the trauma, abuse or neglect that was experienced as a result of a lack of love in those spaces of a person’s life, new understandings of the context of the harm experienced serves as a platform to generate ideas, then goals, and then plans of action to grow love in those locations. and their impact in order to resist reproduction of abuse and neglect, in order to heal, and in order to restore some sense of justice and peace for those involved so that love may grow.
I will continue to write on this topic as this theory and framework continues to develop.