Love and Work: Was Freud Right, After All?

Discover how Sigmund Freud’s theory on love and work paved the way for women to step into erotic energy, their truest power. 

Freud, A Feminist? 

If you took Psych 101 in college you probably learned Freud’s psychosexual stages of development the first week of the semester. And you probably were like, ew, this dude is creepy

Freud’s work was radical for the time in which he wrote it, and it continues to remain so today. Powerful women figured out pretty quickly that all that penis envy wasn’t really a big deal, after all. Then why is Freud’s the first theory you learned? 

The current feminist culture doesn’t fully grasp what patriarchy looked like in Freud’s day. Since the legalization of birth control in the 1960s (United States), women’s attitudes around sexuality have changed. Sex is something to be enjoyed — it’s not just for procreation like it was in Freud’s time. And while many feminists critique the cigar right out of Freud (rightly so, I might add), we don’t often realize how much his work broadened thinking around human sexuality. 

In Freud’s day, patriarchy and religion laced the culture together tighter than a Victorian corset. Women’s sexual energy was bound head to toe, and the idea of a woman talking to a male psychiatrist (let alone make eye contact with him in a room alone) about her sexual desires and experiences was outrageous. 

But while Freud missed the mark on many things, he was one of the first to ask hard questions. Those ponderings formed the foundation of how we understand the human psyche and sexuality today. In that light, one might say that Freud’s radical ideas, like feminism, opened brand new doors for women. 

Sex, Love, And Work

One term that Freud coined, libido, is still widely used today. It’s commonly misunderstood as a sexual drive, particularly that a high libido = a greater desire for sex. But that’s not the full picture. Libido does have something to do with sexual activity, but it does not have everything to do with it. 

Freud saw libido as an energy for life, or an energy to engage in life-giving activity. Obviously, sexuality is part of that. But instead of being a drive for sex, libido is a desire for life, and sex is a vital part of creating that life. 

It’s a subtle shift in thinking, but it’s powerful. Because it changes everything. 

Freud thought that libido extended into two very important life activities: love and work. He also used the word “erotic” interchangeably with the word libido. Sex, love, and work were all fueled from the same source — from a life-giving, erotic energy. 

Erotic Energy Is Not What You Think It Is

Erotic. Now that’s a term you’ve heard before — especially if you subscribe to HBO! 

Erotic is another commonly misunderstood word in the English language. Many people associate it with sexual arousal or romance, when in fact this definition is not the fullest one. 

Erotic comes from the word eros, which is a type of love depicted by the ancient Greeks. Eros is passionate love. In fact, the Greeks even had a god named Eros, the god of love and sex. That’s why there’s a Cupidic association between the word erotic, sexual arousal, and romance. If you do a google search, that’s what you’ll find anyway. But you should keep digging. 

Eros is derived from the Greek verb eírō (εἴρω), which means “to join, tie, fasten, or string together.” Sex and romance are manifestations of the erotic, but they are not its root. The true nature of the erotic is oneness. 

We should be using the real definition of the erotic: “of or pertaining to oneness.” What is truly erotic is connection — not orgasm, pleasure, pornography, KINK, or anything else associated with sex. While erotica is involved in sexuality, it is a means to an end; erotica is not the erotic itself. 

Erotic Energy: Women’s Truest Power 

We women love and work hard, but we’re not always in our erotic “connection” energy when we do it — or at least we aren’t consciously. In fact, you’ve probably never associated erotic energy with your work week before. 

That’s because erotic energy is suppressed at work. There’s an underlying fear around sexual themes and deep connection getting out of control at work … because that shit can get you into trouble faster than doughnuts disappearing in a breakroom. We spend so much energy keeping ourselves buttoned up, and these kinds of eye-opening conversations are dangerous. 

And frankly, femininity is not something that is openly embraced in the workforce. It’s still a man’s world. 

But as women, erotic energy is one of our natural superpowers. Connection and oneness is what loosens the laces of souls. It is passionate and powerful. It’s also transformative. 

The true nature of the erotic is oneness. 

Can you imagine how our workplaces would change if women learned to harness erotic energy for human good? We would connect deeply. Build. Love fully. Include everyone. Change everything … from office camaraderie to team goals and performance evaluations … even our nasty politics. 

Freud’s ideas were unconventional at best and downright wacky at worst. But his work, in part, was the trailhead for understanding erotic energy, women’s most powerful power. Developing awareness of the true erotic, learning to harness it in ways that work, and embracing it as women, is what will really change everything. 

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