Dr. Leo Buscaglia Discusses Love

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NBC Today Show
Jane Pauley
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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In this 1980 interview, Leo Buscaglia, an education professor at the University of Southern California, explains his course on love, which begins with learning to love yourself.



"Dr. Leo Buscaglia Discusses Love." Jane Pauley, correspondent. NBC Today Show. NBCUniversal Media. 26 Sep. 1980. NBC Learn. Web. 11 August 2018.


Pauley, J. (Reporter). (1980, September 26). Dr. Leo Buscaglia Discusses Love. [Television series episode]. NBC Today Show. Retrieved from https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=45888


"Dr. Leo Buscaglia Discusses Love" NBC Today Show, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 09/26/1980. Accessed Sat Aug 11 2018 from NBC Learn: https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=45888


Dr. Leo Buscaglia Discusses Love

JANE PAULEY, co-host:

Maybe you studied Shakespeare, or French, or calculus when you went to college, but did you ever take a course called Love 1A? Dr. Leo Buscaglia, an education professor, says a lot of people need a cram course on how to love and for a number of years he’s been teaching Love 1A, a not for credit course, at the University of Southern California. Good morning, and they call you Dr. Love.

LEO BUSCAGLIA, M.D.: Good Morning.

PAULEY: Do you really teach love?

BUSCAGLIA: I--I don’t believe uh... Well first of all I believe that love is learned, uh but it isn’t, it’s a very complicated process. Everyone should experience it at least once before they die and I think so many people don’t because they believe that love is fully born already within themselves and all they have to do is reach a certain level of maturity and there it is. They can give it away, they can form relationships, they can get married, they can raise children, and I think the statistics, in term of the failures of marriages and--and the fact that the average relationship is about three months in the United States now, ya’ know. That’s not even enough time to know whether she likes pizza and you’re already both going each other’s way. You know and it’s really a sad state.

PAULEY: How seriously did your course in love get started? What inspired it?

DR. BUSCAGLIA: Well, um it was rather a tragic situation, I--I wa, like so many teachers I was in the process of teaching subject matter, not people. And a very beautiful young lady in one of my classes, with whom I had not had a chance to really have any kind of a relationship, except to know that we had taught her to read and to write and to spell do all the things that we thought were significant. And one day she went to Pacific Palisades, which is an area in Los Angeles where shear cliffs fall into the sea and she threw herself off and killed herself. And all of a sudden it, it, it occurred to me, at long last as a teacher that what did it matter that we had taught her all of those things if no one had bothered to teach her a sense of self-respect and personal worth.

PAULEY: You start with um, learn how to love yourself, which is a message we have heard for about a decade now, which is why they called it the ‘me decade’. Is that what you’re talking about?

DR. BUSCAGLIA: No, indeed not. Uh, if anything I am talking about a ‘we’ time and if I want to be identified with anything I want to be identified with ‘us’ and ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ and ‘me’. I am sick to death of ‘I’ and ‘me’. But before we can give to we, we’ve got to deal with me. And the only thing that I can give you, Jane, is what I have. And if I have nothing I can give you nothing, but if I concentrate on becoming all that I am and developing all of my potential, then I can give you all that I am. So that my major concentration is to be the most brilliant, the most sensitive, the most warm, the most loving, the most caring person in the world. Not to keep it for me, you see that’s where it’s stopped in the past generation, but to share it with everyone in my life. And uh..

PAULEY: Share how? By…?

DR. BUSCAGLIA: By walking down…

PAULEY: By doing works?

DR. BUSCAGLIA: By--By walking down the street and saying hello to strangers, by treating the waitress like she is a human person. Uh, my--my definition, if I have a definition of love is not a highfalutin, sophisticated definition. It’s the everyday interaction between people, recognizing that people are more like me than different and that basically we’re all dying of loneliness and we don’t know how to reach out and take each other’s hands.

PAULEY: Aren’t there quantitatively different kinds of love though? I mean, I may be friendly toward the waitress at a restaurant and not love her. I may love my parents, I may love my husband, but not in the same way.

DR. BUSCAGLIA: It’s a matter of degree and I think that if you really reach the essence of love then your love is a universal love, for all things with the same intensity. Because you recognize that a tree doesn’t die, an acorn doesn’t fall without affecting your life. We are naive in believing that we live on islands and that we can only love a few people, uh we need to extend it and the more we extend it the more beautiful it becomes, but we have to do it first. We have to broaden ourselves.

PAULEY: At the end of your class, and you’ve already told me that he doesn’t give grades, how do you if--if a single student or if all of them have, in fact learned?

DR. BUSCAGLIA: I have no way of knowing anything because we are such marvelous actors and actresses all of us, but one of the things we tried to do in this class is to try and reach a genuine self and a me behind the facades. And becoming incongruent with that me, so that we’re not playing games anymore. Because the greatest amount of energy is put out in playing games. If you could be just genuinely you, uh, it’s so easy and then all of those excess energies can go into being creative.

PAULEY: Dr. Love. I know why they call you that. Thank you Leo Buscaglia for being with us.