June 7, 1984
What I have said also applies to organizations segregated along feminine lines, though to a lesser degree.
In both cases the sexes are denied any true communication, and an extremely artificial framework is maintained, in which the sexes literally become strangers to each other. This also encourages various kinds of hysterical reactions, as well as a larger frequency of “contagious diseases” than is experienced by the normal population.
These conditions also occur in some varieties of religious cults, whether or not strict sexual segregation is enforced. If human relationships are highly regulated and supervised, or family members encouraged to spy upon their relatives or friends, then you have the same kind of curtailment of natural expression and communication.
People in such societies often suffer from malnourishment, frequent beatings, an excessive use of the enema, and often indulge in physical punishment. The children are strictly raised, and a lack of normal spontaneity is the rule rather than the exception. Members of such organizations often suffer maladies in which their bodies do not utilize nutrients. They are often food faddists of one kind or another, but because they do fear spontaneity to such a degree they will often become afflicted with diseases or maladies associated with the body’s unconscious processes.
You can also find single families, of course, that operate like cults – or an entire nation – that are given over to repression with its resulting violence.
The ideas that you have, then, play a large role in the way the body handles its nutrients, and utilizes its health and vitality. If you believe that the body is somehow evil, you may punish it by nearly starving to death, even though your diet might be considered normal by usual standards. For it is possible for your ideas to cause chemical reactions that impede your body’s ability to accept nourishment. If you believe that the body is evil, the purest health-food diet will or may do you little good at all, while if you have a healthy desire and respect for your physical body, a diet of TV dinners, and even of fast foods, may well keep you healthy and nourished.
If we are talking about health, it is to your beliefs that we must look. You have the most efficient and beautiful physical organs, the most elegant joints and appendages, the most vibrant lungs and the most exquisite of senses. It is up to you to form a body of beliefs that is worthy of your physical image – for you are nourished by your beliefs, and those beliefs can cause your daily bread to add to your vitality, or to add to your cares and stress.
The weight of unfortunate beliefs perhaps falls heaviest on the older segments of the population, for the beliefs have had a longer period of time to operate relatively unimpeded.
Those particular beliefs actually take hold in young adults, so that it seems that all of life is meant to come to its fullest flower in young adulthood, and then from that prestigious position fall quicker and quicker into disuse and disarray.
Those ides do not only inflict severe difficulties upon older members of the population, but they also have a vital part to play in the behavior of many young people who commit suicide directly or indirectly. It seems to such youngsters that the pinnacle of life is just at hand, to last only briefly, and then to be snatched away. Undue stress is laid upon youthful beauty and youthful achievement, so that it appears that all of the rest of life’s activities must suffer by contrast.
Knowledge through experience is not considered a practical-enough method of learning, so that the skills and understanding that come with age are seldom taken into consideration.
Again, to a certain degree, religion and science – and the medical sciences in particular – seem devoted to encouraging the most negative beliefs about human nature. It is taken for granted that all mental, physical, spiritual and emotional satisfactions become lesser with advancing age. It is taken for granted that memory fails, the body weakens, the senses stagnate, and the emotional vividness dims. It is often considered scandalous to even imagine sexual activity after the age of even 40 or 50.
Faced with that kind of a projected future, no wonder many adolescents prefer to die before catching sight of the very first hint of deterioration – the first wrinkle or touch of gray in the hair. What forerunners of disaster such natural signs must seem! And at the other end of the scale, older parents are treated by their grown children as if they themselves were falling into a grotesque version of a second childhood. Many people actually speak louder to older persons, whether or not they have any hearing difficulties at all.
Your entire world of commerce and advertisements, of competition and of business, prolong such attitudes. This is aside from the impact of the entertainment industry, which reflects that same glorification of youth, and that fear of growing old.
There are very definite, excellent side-effects of growing older, that we will also discuss in this book – but here I want to assure the reader that basically speaking there are no diseases brought about by old age alone.
The body often wears out because it has been used less and less – and that is because little study has been given to the true capabilities of the healthy physical body in the later years of life. That period also contains certain rhythms in which normal healing processes are highly accelerated, and the life force itself does not wear out or lessen within a body. Its expression may be impeded at any time, but the unique energy of each individual is not drained away because of age alone.
We will have more to say concerning older people and their ways of life, and also discuss the many beliefs and ideas that can come almost immediately to their aid. The subject of suicide will also be discussed in a different context, and when I invite my readers to start over, I want it understood that you can indeed start over regardless of your age or circumstances.