ABSTRACT

Chapter 1 discusses the cultural and semantic origins of the term loving kindness, with reference to world belief systems, nineteenth-century literature and ideas which have emerged within the theory and practice of psychotherapy since that time. Research findings and theory which developed from the mid-twentieth century onwards (Bowlby, Fonagy, Gerhardt & Holmes), concerning the warm feelings which support secure infant attachment, are applied to effective psychotherapy practice. The concept of chesed, a Hebrew term representing loving kindness as steadfastness, is used to illustrate a central feature of securely attached relationships and effective psychotherapeutic engagement. Examples are drawn from the novels and biography of Charles Dickens. The impact of an absence of loving kindness in infant attachment is described and applied to the experience of an adult client, in a case study from the author's practice. The chapter concludes with reflections on loving kindness as a form of ‘good’, with reference to the philosophy of Iris Murdoch, in her discussion of the nature of love as ‘a force that joins us to good’ (1971).