Just as I noticed the growing narcissism in our culture in 1989 when I wrote Narcissism and Intimacy, I am noticing now signs of a cosmic shift, a movement toward relationship and connection. Based on what we are learning about the brain as a social organ, the ability of brains to connect without words, the ability of people in groups to “read “ each other, and the ability of early wired-in emotions formed in relationships, it is evident that we cannot NOT be in relationship. The human brain is relational. We are born into relationship and continue relating to the moment we die. The greatest human tragedy is a sense of non-relating.
The cultural messages of the 20th century encouraged a focus on being separate and differentiated there is a shift from the individual as center to the 21st century relationship as center. We see a move from the focus on me to the focus on “being with”. We will see also how this determines our welfare and that of others in all aspects of life.
The Need for Connection
There is a universal need for connection to family, to other people who are culturally similar, and to societal and national identities that are larger than ourselves. We cannot love ourselves to health and happiness; we need other people in the family and community, in which we live to accept and value us in order to grow and thrive. The most severe punishment in every society is rejection by the group. Aloneness breeds illness and shortens life.
Finding a New Ground for Happiness
Bonding with other people in new relationships helps to heal old wounds caused by love’s early disappointments. We can claim our right to nurture and be nurtured, strengthen and be strengthened by and with others. By focusing on the primacy of relationships, we can find a new ground for happiness and meaning without losing our sense of “self.”
Available presentations with Dr. Marion Solomon:
Attachment, Culture and Relationships from the program Toward A New Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships(view full program)
Lean on Me presented by Marion Solomon
Keeping Love Alive: Desire, Monogamy and the Neurobiology of Intimate Attachments recorded in 2008 at the Anatomy of Intimacy conference
Related Presentations on Relationships
Sue Carter's The Love Code: The Neurobiology of Social Bonds presentation builds on insights into love and monogamy.
Philip Shaver's Romantic Love, Caregiving and Sex: Implications of Attachment Research for Couples Therapy presentation on attachment theory and couples therapy based on years of research.
Susan Johnson's Hold Me Tight: Strengthening the Bonds of Love presentation, based on her book "Hold Me Tight," translates attachment theory and the new science of love into ordinary language for everyone.