In Search of Truth I: Hubris and Narcissism
At an even more basic level, the child reared in a narcissistic family finds it difficult to establish intimate relationships. Many years ago, Erich Fromm (2019) (in The Art of Love) proposed that we can’t truly love another person until we can love ourselves. This proposal seems relevant to Donaldson-Pressman and Pressman’s analysis of the intimacy problems facing the products of a narcissistic family and to our own reticence to offer our voice about the virus. As children, members of the narcissistic family can’t identify their own needs and wants, hence as they grow older, they can never easily let other people into their lives other than through superficial relationships. While their attention in later life to each of their lover’s needs may initially seem to be a pleasurable gift, there is a terrible cost associated with this one-way relationship. Similarly, like Echo, are we infatuated with (do we “love”) the expert (Narcissus)? Do we set aside our own needs on behalf of the expert? Do we remain without voice as we listen to the persuasive predictions of the experts on pandemics?
Neurobiologists have recently indicated that human beings (more than any other animal) are oriented to bonding (as mediated through the neurochemical oxytocin)—probably in large part because of the vulnerability of the new-born human child. This bonding will only be sustained if there is a sharing of responsibility and attention. What about the expert leader: do they provide the bonding that we want during periods of intense stress? Does their expertise provide us with a warm, comforting blanket? Are we willing to set aside our own critical faculties in exchange for this blanket? Like Echo, are we willing to be infatuated with the expert and silence our own voice? At a fundamental level, are we willing to collude with the COVID-19expert and their own hubris and narcissism?