Understanding The Sickness of the American Psyche
Holistic theory posits that, when suppression takes place, the vital force simply takes the energy that went into the creation of the original symptoms and redirects that energy into the creation of new symptoms. Those new symptoms can appear the next day, the next month, or even a year later. The original symptoms represent the most efficient means of self-healing available to the life force. When suppressive measures deprive it of that choice, the life force must seek a less advantageous method of self-defense. The new, less advantageous symptoms are a reflection of the resulting greater vulnerability of the organism. As a result, the new symptoms often pose a more serious threat to the person than the originally suppressed symptoms.
When a child's diaper rash is forcibly suppressed with a steroid cream, it should surprise no one when the same child subsequently becomes irritable and develops an ear infection. Have you ever known someone whose warts were frozen off with liquid nitrogen only to have multiple new warts erupt at a nearby location? How about the person whose cortisone shot brings great relief to his shoulder pain, only to have the pain manifest a month later as never-before-experienced pain in the opposite shoulder? Stories of this nature are legion but medicine manages to downplay their significance by defining them as new, unrelated problems that require new treatment. And so the vicious cycle continues.
It is critically important to understand that when suppressed symptoms are redirected deeper into the system, they often re-emerge as more threatening physical illness. What most patients and physicians don't realize is that they can alternately manifest as mental-emotional symptoms.
Therefore, since the primary strategy of mainstream medicine is symptom suppression, it unintentionally winds up being the biggest contributing factor to the increasing prevalence of mental illness. We are the most drug-dependent nation on the planet, and it is no coincidence that we have such frightening levels of psychiatric illness.
As a simple example, consider for a moment a child given ADHD drugs to make him compliant in the classroom, who subsequently experiences suicidal ideation as a so-called side effect. (5) This is not so much a side effect as it is a suppressive effect. Although suppression is rarely acknowledged by mainstream medicine, it is a ubiquitous phenomenon.
Drugs used to control Parkinson's disease, for example, are known to cause a variety of mental-emotional problems including psychosis. When neurologic symptoms like tremors are suppressed by these drugs, the energy that caused them can be redirected deeper into the system where they manifest as psychiatric disturbances. Believe it or not, antibiotics, too, are capable of inducing a wide array of psychiatric symptoms including sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and even hallucinations. We rarely hear of this potentiality in spite of the millions of prescriptions dispensed annually to both children and adults.
This is the basis of the condition referred to as PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections). Even those in holistic circles are mistaken when they blame the streptococcal organism for the mood disturbances, vocal tics, and compulsive behaviors that suddenly appear in children who have taken antibiotics. What most don't realize is that when antibiotics suppress the infections that they are intended to target, the life force may be forced to compensate by displacing the illness onto the mental-emotional plane.
With each successive dose of symptom-suppressing drug taken, America unwittingly seals its fate. The life force is left with no other option but to manifest illness deeper on the mental-emotional plane. (6) Our pill-popping proclivity and general intolerance for suffering leads inevitably to more suffering. This poorly understood principle of mind-body mechanics must not be underestimated. It is the source of a great deal of deep-seated mental-emotional dysfunction. Suppressive medical treatment is the primary maintaining factor for a whole spectrum of chronic mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, neuroses, obsessions, attention disorders, narcissistic tendencies, aggressive behavior, and even suicidal thinking.
Psychiatric medications are the worst offenders because when symptoms already on the mental-emotional plane are suppressed by these drugs, the consequences can be catastrophic. There is perhaps no more damning evidence than the number of mass shootings in the U.S. that have been perpetrated by individuals who had been taking psychiatric medications. (7)
The deeper the illness penetrates into the collective mind-body of the general public, the more we see signs of fight or flight. We are a terrorized and terrified nation with a hair-trigger temper that looks to vent its aggression on the nearest scapegoat. When there is no external enemy left to blame, we turn the destructive impulse on ourselves, thereby intensifying the descent into madness. As a consequence, America is more polarized than ever before. We divide ourselves into opposing camps on all issues; liberals and conservatives battle over gun rights, gay rights, civil rights, war and peace, science and religion, Wall Street and Main Street—as if there can be no middle ground. The rising tide of fear and hate is unmistakable.
Consumer culture—itself a reflection of the fickle, impatient, and immature condition of the American psyche—is convinced that it can buy and sell health in the form of pills. We have fallen for the deception that medical suppression is an acceptable substitute for genuine healing, and the repercussions have been devastating. We are a deeply sick society at war with itself.
There is a reason that America seems crazier than ever before—because it is. The "terror" that has been magnified in the mind of the average American serves to breed mistrust of others, intolerance for differences, and the projection of our personal, internal issues onto imaginary, external enemies. The underlying source of our collective craziness is a function of our fear-based perspective and the medical strategies that contribute to it and maintain it.
On the political front, the enemy takes the form of terrorists, the indigent, minorities, non-heterosexuals, non-Christians, and illegal "aliens." On the medical front, it manifests as a fear of contagion. Ebola, swine flu, bird flu, meningitis, anthrax, Mad Cow disease, SARS, E. Coli, West Nile virus—the list is endless. Measles, once a relatively common immunological milestone, has suddenly become the scourge de jour. We quake in our shoes at the thought of these unwanted, external invaders that threaten our cozy lifestyles. A frightened populace is notoriously susceptible to suggestion, and there is no shortage of unsavory influences willing to exploit that fact. The annual flu scare is a perfect example of media exploitation by Medical Big Brother who has forged a Faustian bargain with corporate biotech, which, in turn, is more than willing to use the populace as scientific guinea pigs.
And so we meekly submit to heightened security measures, x-raying our bodies and checking our shoes at airports, tolerating surveillance of our digital footprints, and casting our votes to bankrupt the nation in the name of homeland security. The fear factor is so great that we allow our children to be injected with an ever-expanding list of unproven vaccines, while we ignore mounting evidence that points to the exponentially rising levels of both acute and chronic disease that they are responsible for creating. One can only hope that we will come to realize that the true risks far outweigh the psychological benefit—a shallow and impotent semblance of safety and security.
The reactionary mindset of America is a by-product of a sick psyche that sees all things in black and white, that sees opposition where there could be cooperation, polarity where there could be complementarity. Even if all the imagined bogeymen, terrorist threats, and scary mutated germs were able to be subdued once and for all, the problem would not cease, because the illness remains. We are a hysteria-prone country, unwilling to take responsibility for ourselves, and more than willing to rely on short-term, superficial solutions. The problem is that suppression only creates the illusion of healing. In actuality, it leads to the magnification of the underlying causes of disease.
This destructive mix of cultural violence and medical suppression is compounded by a third critical factor, which makes it difficult to imagine how we can ever extricate ourselves from our downward spiral into psychic chaos. That factor is modern science itself, or at least that which passes for science. Contemporary science, it turns out, is subject to the same cultural distortions as all other issues. To those embroiled in the culture wars, science is either all right or all wrong. We have reached a point where you are either a science believer or a science denier, with no room for nuance in between. Our collective psychic split causes us to conceptualize most issues as a choice between polar opposites. Those who question the wisdom or safety of vaccines, for example, must therefore be anti-science. Although such a notion is patently absurd, it is used, nevertheless, by many to discredit those who do not agree with their views—as if we are no longer allowed to question the claims of science.
But the culture war between science and religion cuts both ways; it is a consequence of extremist beliefs, not just on the part of religion, but on both sides of the equation. Since we live in a scientific age, few stop to question the correctness of scientific beliefs. In earlier times, it was religious authority that censored new scientific ideas. Nowadays, we are witnessing the reverse. Our culture is so heavily influenced by scientific thought that we rarely stop to consider that our scientific perspective may serve as a form of bias that prevents us from attaining an impartial viewpoint.
Even though science, when properly conducted, has no business weighing in on issues of belief and values, it does so anyway. This type of extremist science—more accurately termed scientism (8)—has had the net effect of eroding our moral judgment, our spiritual intuition, and our confidence in religious wisdom that has accumulated since the dawn of time. Science, which claims to be value neutral, presumes to tell us what our values should be. Furthermore, science deliberately sets out to exclude the subjective on the grounds that it is not trustworthy, in essence making the claim that nothing but the facts as defined by science can be trusted. In other words, scientism teaches us not to trust our own experience.
Take away basic values, moral judgment, and common sense based on human experience, add to that the relentless violence and systematic medical suppression that we inflict upon ourselves, and the result is the lost soul that is the American psyche. When we employ scientific tunnel vision without the emotional maturity and spiritual wisdom that comes from a balanced perspective, it makes righting the ship a truly difficult task.
On the bright side, there is a discernable and comprehensible explanation for this disturbing state of affairs. If we can understand the root causes, there is the possibility that it can be remedied. Despite the admittedly pessimistic tone of this article, I do believe that it is not too late to reverse the trend, but it will require a revolution in thinking. It will involve a turning away from violence as a way of life, toward healthier methods of conflict resolution. It will involve self-education regarding the nature of symptom suppression and its consequences, and the assimilation of more holistic approaches to health that can actually lead to long-term healing.
Society must become cognizant of the very real differences between genuine science that is aware of its limitations and respectful of legitimate boundaries, and the malignant scourge of scientism, which is an ideological form of science with imperialist designs on sole ownership of the truth. Scientism goes out of its way to discredit new ideas that don't conform to its narrow worldview. The hallmark of scientism is that it has no tolerance for debate and, like any fundamentalist religion, always believes that is in the right, simply by virtue of the fact that it claims to be science. This, of course, is ludicrous.
The cultural sickness that pits neighbor against neighbor is very real, and it is on the rise. The solution is simple, but its implementation is complex. By acknowledging the excessive violence that pollutes society and finding ways to curtail it, by adopting non-suppressive methods of healing, and by understanding the differences between reasonable science and unreasonable scientism, we can take concrete steps to heal the sick American psyche.