Saturday, November 27

From wacky Covid theorists to antivaxxers, arrogance and fear haunt the wellness community | Brigid delaney

IIt is not unusual to meet people with alternative beliefs in a Sufi meditation course on a rooftop in Ubud. But when a mild and vaguely apologetic Australian woman in her 50s explained to me that she was responsible for her own breast cancer because she had repressed her needs and her sexuality and this repression had manifested as cancer in her breast, I thought, “Far away. “

It was 2014 and the woman had been staying at a nearby retirement facility, undergoing a variety of alternative therapies in one last attempt to stay alive after her cancer had spread.

Her belief that she had caused her own cancer made her feel remorseful and guilty, but conversely, as she explained, it also meant that she could reverse her diagnosis if she worked on her emotional issues.

That emotional problems caused physical illness was a common belief in the nascent wellness industry of the 1980s and 1990s. Louise Hay, the megaseller behind You Can Heal your Life, pushed the line that various illnesses spelled personal defeat, for example, rheumatoid arthritis meant “Feeling victimized. Lack of love. Chronic bitterness. Resentment ”and asthma were the result of“ feeling suffocated. Suppressed crying. “

Such obviously far-fetched theories could be dismissed with a laugh, except that Hay’s books were wildly popular, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide.

Years later, I still think about the terminally ill woman in Bali and get angry that she had signed up for such shit, and that she had wasted what would probably be the last months of her life blaming herself for her illness.

You don’t hear much about Louise Hay today, but trace elements of her philosophy survive when it comes to the wellness industry and Covid.

There is a belief that we can control our bodies and that a powerful natural immune system is the best defense against Covid, not a vaccine.

After resisting the notion that Covid is even real (the so-called “scamdemic” or “plandemic”), now those pushing the conspiracy theories are standing firm, this time arguing that vaccines are dangerous, part of a plot. from Big Pharma. to increase profits, or not for people who have strong immune systems.

When this corner of the wellness industry refuses to get vaccinated, it’s not primarily out of fear of the vaccine’s side effects or because it developed too quickly, but most likely comes from a place of arrogance – those who are fine. They don’t need the vaccine because they have the Rolls Royce immune system. Instead, the only people who get sick and die from Covid have a pre-existing illness, or are in some way physically deficient, or have succumbed to the emotion of fear that weakens the immune system.

A theory that shares some of these principles found popular expression recently. on LinkedIn post (now deleted) from the head of a US salad chain, who said he was vaccinated himself and supports people who get vaccinated: “78% of Covid hospitalizations are obese and overweight people. Is there an underlying problem that we may not have paid enough attention to? … no vaccine or mask will save us ”. That is, eat enough salad (take personal responsibility for FFS!) And you won’t need a vaccine. After a public backlash, he first apologized to his staff and then in a new LinkedIn post.

In the raw version of a 60 Minutes interview posted on YouTube in 2020, Chef Pete Evans, a notable antivaxxer, also touted the sovereignty of a pure immune system: “And am I afraid of Covid-19, if I came into contact with someone? [who has it]? No, I’m not, because I believe in who I am and in my ability to stay as healthy as possible despite everything. “

More recently, a Byron-based wellness influencer came under fire for a post published on the day of the blockade protests that said, “Remember that science is a THEORY, like magic.”

Instead, he recommended “taking care of your physical health and optimizing your immune system with herbs, breathing exercises, organic foods. Start growing your own food. Learn about the ground. “

Dr. James Rose, a social anthropologist at the University of Melbourne, told me last year that a sense of superiority can permeate the identity of conspiracy-based communities. He said identity can be strengthened when you put yourself above others “and Pete Evans and his community are very explicit about it: they think they are better, purer, fitter and more active than other people.”

The feeling of superiority can also mean that people who attack the ideals of the group are dismissed as unevolved or “sheep,” an arrogance that prevents meaningful debate or dissent.

But from Hay to today’s crop of social media wellness influencers, there’s a common buzz of neurosis underneath the bravado – that’s the need to feel in control.

The ultimate irony is that fear is running your show. It’s scary to think that you can get cancer regardless of how healthy your diet is, or that you can get Covid, regardless of your BMI. The randomness of the disease, and the ultimate certainty of death, is too terrifying for some to contemplate. So they trust a fiction that makes them feel safe, superior, and unconsciously immortal. Hay’s fiction is this: stop acting like a child and you will cure your kidney problems. Your wellness counterparts today say eat organic food, do yoga, don’t consume mainstream media, and you won’t get sick from Covid.

They believe that they are special and that we, the vaccinated ones, are the ones who are afraid; but fear runs deep in these communities.

Ben Lee, an Australian musician who spans both worlds, put it well. “The arrogance of some antivaxxers is just a form of control. One of the epiphanies that Buddha had when he left the palace is that people get sick and die. It’s a reality: we get sick and die, and we can’t handle that. This is why people often prefer to think: good people don’t. Good people eat good organic food and have strong immune systems and don’t get sick. “

Experience abroad shows that Covid is becoming an unvaccinated pandemic. The disease does not care if you eat organic or not.

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