A Prodigious Love: What Do You Want?

In his book Love's Executioner, psychologist Irvin D. Yalom describes a group exercise in which participants working in pairs ask each other just one question: "What do you want?" over and over and over again.

Often, within minutes, the room rocks with emotion.

The participants don't ask for winning lottery tickets, or bigger cars, or well-funded retirement plans.

Instead Yalom writes:

"They call out to those who are forever lost - dead or absent parents, spouses, children, friends: 'I want to see you again.' 'I want your love.' 'I want to know you are proud of me.' 'I want you to know I love you and how sorry I am I never told you.' ' I want you back - I am so lonely.' "

Yalom sees strong emotions written on their faces:

"So much wanting. So much longing. And so much pain, so close to the surface, only minutes deep."

This kind of wanting is not about jealousy or envy, or about caring who has more. It reflects a genuine human need that runs much deeper.

Perhaps the need to touch another person and be loved in return makes everything else seem insignificant.