Sam Keen, a contributing editor to Psychology Today and American Health, has ambitiously attempted to chart "the changing imperatives, impulses, and motives that govern each stage of the life-cycle." The Greek philosophers viewed eros as "the prime mover, the motivating principle in all things human and non-human." Keen affirms this definition. He wants to take a fresh look at love and sexuality. The author has no respect for Puritanical abnegation of eros nor does he hurrah contemporary libertinism: 'Our obsessive efforts to find the core of life's meaning and satisfaction in sexual experience is a potlatch feast dedicated to a dying god."
Keen's life-map for the fully human begins with "the Child" stage when we learn of love as separation and reunion, "eros in the bud." The second stage is "the Rebel" adolescent's test of the boundaries of love by breaking all the rules. "The Adult " phase finds people grappling with the value of love in terms of self, marriage and family.
Keen's most revealing categories in this "erotic developmental psychology" are the last two: "the Outlaw" and "the Lover." In the first, we are challenged to "metanoia," an experience that enables us to see ourselves as we really are. As Keen puts it, "I open myself to be more than I can ever know." Here sex is "a parable that teaches that the self is an intersection. I am not an isolated atom, but a point of resonance, a vibratory event."
In the final stage, "the Lover," we accept the link between eros and the whole adventure of life from family and friends, to art, politics, technology and the earth. We acknowledge that " the presence of evil may break the heart, but it does not prove the cosmos is a loveless place." This is a fine study of the stages of loving.