Meetings No 25
The Art of Pivoting
Atti Soenarso: Change is the only constant in life.
Cover Story
Doing Business Worldwide Is in Our DNA
Eric Bakermans on the role of the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions.
New Tool Kickstarts Global Business after Covid-19
The first interactive mapping tool to help viewers see which Covid-19 restrictions apply to specific countries.
Psychological Meetings
Egoism, Fanaticism and Populism
A place of refuge from the miseries of life.
Virtually Real?
Geoff Donaghy on the future of virtual meetings.
Strategic Development
Sustainability – A Brand for the Thai Business Events
Thailand is a serious player in sustainability.
Thinking Is Difficult
Ever-current Jungian words of wisdom.
Collective Action
Create Solutions That Mean We Emerge with a ­Collective Desire to Succeed
The Hague Convention Bureau, part of The Hague & Partners, won 92 international congresses in 2019.
Brisbane Capitalises on the Rapidly-Growing Digital Economy
At the heart of Brisbane’s innovation is its human capital.
Leeds Digital Festival Moved Online Amidst Covid-19 Outbreak
It is encouraging to see how a local, home-grown event can adapt and change practices.
The 5 Devils of Fear and How to Dissolve Them
We are not born into limitation. We are taught to doubt, educated to make excuses and trained to fear.
Historical Virtual Meeting for Alzheimer and Parkinson 2020
Entirely virtual event with over 1,140 participants from 56 countries.
The Economic and Social Footprint of Coronavirus
A look at possible business effects of the outbreak.
10,000 Pages Later
Roger Kellerman ponders past, present and future.

Germany wins EU clearance
for €642m support scheme for tradefair and congress sector.
Lima celebrates its 486th anniversary
and announces the development of a long-term strategy that will revitalise its tourism and business sector.
UNWTO Yesterday
IATA hints
at vaccination requirement to fly internationally.
Fourth Industrial Revolution
MCI transforms
for the digital age.
latest research
Innovation network
“Future Meeting Space”: digital event on 22 February.
Emirates expands its operations
in the Americas in line with increased passenger demand.
IMEX in Frankfurt 2021
is cancelled.
hotel news Sweden
Scandic Arlandastad opens its doors
with Scandinavian XPO international meeting and event center as its neighbors.
hotel news
Built in a former prison
Hotel Kakola boasts a fascinating history.
creative new offering
Hybrid City Alliance
recognises growth in multi-hub meetings and conferences.
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Egoism, Fanaticism and Populism – A place of refuge from the miseries of life

“Man’s body is naked and vulnerable, exposed in its softness to every assault. With care and cunning, he may be able to fend off things which come near, but it is easy to reach him from a distance; spears and arrows can transfix him. He has invented shields and armour, and built walls and whole fortresses around himself; what he most desires from all these precautions is a feeling of invulnerability.”


From Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

The new-born baby lies suckling at its mother’s breast. Barely a few hours old, the child cannot yet distinguish or experience anything that could be described in structures. Existence is a boundless ’everything.’ As there is nothing external contra internal, the experience could be described as psychotic with no tangible ’reality.’ In classical psychology theory, some refer to this boundless state as a dreamlike primary process. Fragrances, sounds and light consist of unspecified signals that are linked to variations of somatic impulses that are related to cold, heat and pain, but also to stillness and calm.

When the mother offers the baby her breast it is like holding out something that is part of the baby itself. The fragrances from the breast send signals that help the child shape its mouth and start to feed from something that is a part of everything, and the child is also a part of everything because everything is related to everything. Freud likens the child’s situation with that of an unhatched chick. Other researchers of early infancy have described it as the new-born child being enclosed inside an autistic shell, a shell that protects it from excessive signals from the surrounding world. Should this barrier be penetrated from outside by loud noise or flickering light, the child may react through organismal stress and organismal distress.

It goes without saying that the infant needs to be piloted safely before being able to navigate through a complex and mystifying world all by itself. The primary tools used by the child are the mouth and throat, followed by the eyes. The child looks at the mother’s face during breast and bottle-feeding. The eyes and brain record the mother’s eyes and mimicry, the mouth especially, which can take on different forms and, together with the eyes, magnetically attract the child’s attention.

The driving forces, the amounts of energy in both mother and child, are usually divided into two primary forces: libido and aggression. The libido is the collector and bearer of all things perceived as pleasurable and enjoyable. The mouth is the first erogenous zone and thus the centre of lifelong oral activity (soon to be followed by more). The aggressive component is also vital as it acts as the engine behind the physical movements, that which takes a grip to prepare for the road ahead and overcome any physical or perceived psychological obstacles along the way.

This early development stage is, of course, sensitive. The mother and child must float softly and gently together in harness with the internal rhythms and tensions of their respective bodies. But what about the father? Where does he come into this interplay, and what is his primary role? Naturally, he can assist and sometimes even replace the mother, but he has another role to play in the coming separation process by adding external existence to the internal. While the mother also participates in this process, it is more often facilitated by the coming and going of the father figure with his different vocal levels, unfamiliar eyes and mouth movements.

The child development thus switches from a symbiotic phase through several intensive psychic processes to a more autonomous plateau upon which the rapidly maturing child learns to stand on its own two feet and make its judgments. There are several things in the sensitive interplay with the surrounding world that could misfire, and many risks arise along the way. The idea that is required most of all, and is best implanted during the early weeks and months by the mutual actions of everyone concerned, is basic trust. Without it, the child will continue its journey on wobbly legs with inner insecurity and a growing need to resort to internal psychological defences. If the defences fall, things could become angst-ridden and lead to serious mental health issues.

Life for the Homo Sapiens, the present human being, is in no way easier than for any other animal on our planet. As individual beings, we are vulnerable to all kinds of threats, both external and internal. And we are operation controlled. The libido is permanently set on pleasure and enjoyment. If not kept under shackles, it could become a completely dominant force in our lives. We probably think we are entitled to have our needs satisfied and tend to go through life, taking increasingly higher risks because we have no wish to follow the flock meekly. The crowd requires an altruistic will and attitude to stick together, primarily through the family than other groups (friends, school, working life). This is where guilt feelings are implanted. Without guilt feelings, there is no morality, and without morality, there is no altruism.

Instead, a primitive form of egoism rules. Socially developed egoism is self-fuelled by narcissism. Narcissism stands for self-love, the desire that is primarily directed at one’s self. It is a natural stage of early infant development that quickly moves on to the desire for external objects; first the breast then the mother’s facial features followed by the father’s, and then the combination of all that, something best described as symbolic representations of what one still sees as the one and only.

Narcissism should be seen as the uploading of an inner world of experiences that can either be directed outwards towards the surrounding world or, if obstacles exist, inwards towards oneself. This makes egoism an expression of self-centred narcissism, a desert island in a pulsating, complicated and overly contradictory and conflict-filled world, where the invitations of the flock or crowd do not have enough magnetic pull. The flock usually drags with its cultural demands, which always entails a form of personal degradation, with the possible exception of those who get to sit on a throne or stand on a stage from where they can milk the adoration. They do not like being subordinate to the group. Freud’s Civilisation and its Discontents (Das Unbehagen in der Kultur) gives a good insight into this subject.

Exaggerated egoism is thus a self-imposed refuge that lies in the outer fringes of social interaction. It offers the opportunity to close the door on all things human and hang a sign on it saying: Do not disturb! But not everybody who seeks such a refuge wants to isolate themselves. For thousands of years, groups have been formed for the sole purpose of remoulding reality to suit their illusionary ideas, a world in which everyone is welcome provided they are prepared to play along with the group’s ideology and fantasy of how it all began. Despite Homo Sapiens being gifted with brains that have enabled amazing creative achievements in communication, art, culture and technology, we humans are somehow still very adept at creating myths and fairy tales that are as far removed from scientific proof as it gets.

All our large world religions and smaller non-denominational churches belong here. We humans have reached the stage where we can work all day in scientific laboratories and educational institutions but still seek out environments in which we can devote our time to worshipping something that only exists in our fantasy world. This is part of the ancient human need to find hope and comfort amidst all of life’s contradictions and conflicts and more obvious physical threats, like dangerous animals (poisonous reptiles, spiders, etcetera, insect-borne diseases and large mammal predators), alongside earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and hyper dangerous micro-organisms (bacteria and viruses). This makes us fragile and vulnerable. The threat is also enhanced by the knowledge that we have a limited life span and will one day die.

By connecting with others of a similar nature, we try desperately to form a common counterforce to the threats. We are basically flock animals and can always look to the herd for protection. A flock can reinforce its protection barrier by identifying other human groupings as its greatest threat. Modern history has the “Arian race”, who’s mission it seems is to eradicate anyone of the Jewish faith along with anyone who looks different to them, wears different clothing and has different cultural traditions. By projecting evil onto others, they whitewash themselves of any shame and guilt. Good is here, and the abominable is over there.

This way of acting has paved the way for the concept of populism. Populism stands for a simplified, naïve view by a majority of the people in a flock who are opposed to particular groups like, for example, the ruling class or people with a different political opinion. This is a variant of collective egoism, also based on narcissistic needs but shared with others in the congregation (flock) of which you are a member. These days you hear a lot about far-right and far-left populism. This is because populists usually seek their connections at the extreme ends of the political scale.

Thus, the narcissistic, egoistic person strives to extend their protection barrier right up against that they perceive as being a threat. This usually makes them highly sensitive to criticism. Any direct criticism of their position will generally lead to powerful counter-reactions bordering on the fanatical. Fanaticism is thus a social reaction and in addition to that part of human psychology, something far removed from humility and thoughtful wisdom.

The unprotected infant travels down life’s journey in what could be described as a complex and invariably unwelcoming archipelago full of reefs and sudden depths amidst a host of attractive islands, skerries and glittering bays. Over the years, the need for protection against the ever-increasing menace grows and grows. Look, a refuge! And another one! How fitting! How nice! Or maybe not.