Totem and Taboo, 2020

Totem and Taboo was a book written by Sigmund Freud and published in 1915, about human neurosis, health, behavior, and survival. This post is also about those interactions; but in regard to the current crisis concerning the COVID-19 global pandemic.

I am suggesting that there is a three factor model that can explain who is at risk and who is not.

Mark Edward Jabbour's Venn diagram of variables regarding death risk from regarding death risk
3 factor model of fatality risk

And also that this happenstance is being exploited in the service of money, sex, and power. The importance of which becomes apparent in conjunction with Freud’s thinking and theories. As well as my own.

What happened

is that people in power were caught unawares by a biological, natural occurrence; and subsequently do what people do – used the circumstance to their advantage as best they could. Without regard for your well being (insomuch as it wasn’t related to theirs.) Which is (almost) perfectly explained by Evolutionary Psychology. 

Evolutionary Psychology

attempts to explain human behavior by combining evolutionary theory (natural/biological process, i.e. Physics & Chemistry)) with Social Psychology to inform us (humans) as to why we do what we do, or Behaviorism theory. Individual differences (personality theory) complicate this analysis further. Enter Freud, who uncovered the unconscious as a motivational factor regarding “Why?” Or, what the fuck?


as I’ve observed and interpreted it with regard to the past few weeks using the current technology, regarding the major players (influencers) breaks down this way:

  • Boris Johnson (British prime minister), recovering from a serious COVID-19 infection: humble, grateful, and confident.
  • Donald Trump (POTUS), twice tested negative: confident, combative, forceful, funny.
  • Andrew Cuomo (governor of New York State), healthy w/a brother who tested positive: strong, confident, authoritative, informed, serious.
  • Bernie Sanders (defeated candidate for POTUS, & senator from Vermont), vain,  hurt, angry, disingenuous.
  • Barack Obama (former POTUS), arrogant, condescending, patronizing.
  • Joe Biden (candidate for POTUS), wishful, sad, confused.
  • Elizabeth Warren (defeated candidate for POTUS, & senator from Massachusetts), self-serving, opportunistic, ambitious.
  • Chris Cuomo (infected, quarantined CNN, cable TV, news anchor, & younger brother of the governor), confused.
  • Krystal Ball (host of Rising on YouTube), confident, smug, funny, smart.

In conclusion

Freud was (mostly) right. Personality drives behavior. Personality is the result of one’s personal reality, i.e. experience. Neurosis is real and results from the trauma of the experience of life (reality) and consciousness. And that that is repressed and results in sickness. Which the cause is mostly unknowable. [Witness the “experts” being wrong about most everything regarding their models/predictions about what might/will happen regarding this “outbreak”. Most importantly – are you at risk?]

All of which is impacted by things that are (mostly) unknown. And that is (mostly) frightening. Because we fear death, or Oblivion.

Thus totems and taboos.

Confidence matters

To be continued …


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