Psychic Pollution: BS Detection Network
BS is exactly what you think it is and SB is Self-Betrayal. Here is the destructive link between them!
I ended a previous post with the observation that Psychic Pollution is aimed at persuading us to accept someone else’s point of view and ignore any misgivings we may have about doing so. This is the essence of self-betrayal. Oddly enough self-betrayal is actually about gaining approval and it applies to all kinds of situations in our lives from trying to befriend someone we are not naturally drawn to all the way to marrying someone we don’t love in order to have our parents’ approval. I had a friend who did just that. When I asked her if she was confident that she had made the right choice of husband she said that she ‘would rather die than disappoint’ her parents. How many of us are guilty of that? We all are. It starts in early childhood as part of the process of learning what is deemed appropriate in the familial/social setting we are born into. We quickly learn what elicits smiles and hugs and what elicits disapproval and – far too often – a ‘smack’. Life is a process of trial and error and we learn that very early. Sometimes the cost of making even a small error is greatly disproportionate to the actual deed. When this happens to us on a frequent basis we lose confidence in our own judgment, learn not to trust ourselves and to accept others’ perceptions in place of our own. These are the seeds of self-betrayal that can stay with us for life unless and until we decide to change the status quo.
Psychic Pollution: BS Detection Network
Psychic Pollution takes two, one to distort reality (keeping us in the dark and feeding us BS) and one to accept the distortion (that’s us in self-betrayal mode!). In earliest childhood we have no defences against psychic pollution. If we have two loving and balanced parents (almost no one does!), we are fortunate indeed. They will nurture us through the dependency stage of infancy and toddler-hood and help us to ‘stand on our own two feet’ – when we are ready. However, parents who ‘push’ children to perform are teaching their children from the get-go to ignore their own sense perceptions. It’s an attempt (often unconscious, especially in fathers) to sabotage the child so that the parent can feel superior and make the child feel like a failure, a scapegoat for the parent’s own failings. At the pre-verbal level of development we cannot rationalize what is happening to us; indeed research into early child development suggests that ‘pushing’ or ‘hurrying’ a child through any step in its development may delay the acquisition of language and therefore our ability to think about what happens to us. It impedes self-understanding and blocks intuition, the most crucial tool in our survival kit.
Intuition Is The Ultimate BS Detector
Ultimately, psychic pollution is about smothering intuition, what the novelist Hemingway called our ‘built-in, shock-proof bullshit detector’. Definitely not one of my favourite writers, he nonetheless hit the nail on the head with that observation. We are accustomed to thinking that all of the important and useful information about our world comes through our five senses but that is only part of the story. Whether we know it or not part of our consciousness is devoted to picking up information that is too subtle to register on the physical senses. Sometimes we ‘get’ this information just from hearing a name or perhaps feeling that someone is looking at us when we can’t see anyone doing so. This is our intuition speaking to us on ‘back channel’, the Unofficial Broadcaster of the Bullshit Detection Network and we need to pay attention to the placement and sensitivity of our antennae.
Just How Stupid Are We?
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the political life of the planet. There are a number of crucial recent and planned elections: Russia, Myanmar, France, Venezuela, Greece, India, the U.S., and many more countries, large and small. 2012 seems to be a particularly important year for decision-making around the world, decisions that could have devastating consequences for the entire planet. At such a crucial juncture, the dangers of psychic pollution are acute: politicians are distorting, insinuating, implying, ‘massaging’, misrepresenting, denying, accusing, and even fabricating “information” in an effort to win our votes. Are we at their mercy? Only if we co-operate in the politicians’ game of blind man’s bluff. Ever play that game as a child? You voluntarily don a blindfold, a few children spin you around, and then you have to try to find one of them, but not just anyone. You have to find the child who is holding the little prize that will be yours if you get it right! The stakes are much higher in adulthood and we may well have only one chance to ‘get it right’ and steer ourselves away from the brink of global disaster. What would it take to do that?
Find the BS to avoid the Self-Retrayal
We have two tools at our disposal to dispel the effects of psychic pollution: checking the record for accurate information and tuning in to the Bullshit Detection Network. (Hint: it isn’t Fox, Rogers or Murdoch). For simplicity’s sake let’s look at the example of where President Obama was born. The US Constitution stipulates that only a person born in America can become President. Naturalised citizens can run for other public offices but not for President. Obama was born in Hawaii, an American state, to an American mother. His father was from Somalia. Under the terms of the US constitution, Barack Obama was born an American and therefore entitled to run for President. But back in 2008 in the midst of the US presidential election, a rumour started to spread, first on right wing radio, then internet, television, and finally became an election issue. A ridiculous election issue. The rumour was started by someone attached to the Hillary Clinton campaign (the worker was fired) and then hyped by the Republicans who for various reasons were dead set against Obama’s election. Racism played a big part in this rumour-mongering but money played an even bigger part. Some of the wealthiest people in America led by Donald Trump fuelled the rumour and kept it before the public until roughly 40% of Americans thought Obama was not an American citizen! Ridiculous as this is, the ‘birther’ campaign is still going strong four years later and once again some extremely wealthy and powerful people are using a completely ‘Trumped up’ issue (pardon the pun) to hi-jack the election. This dirty trick tactic is being used in one country after the other. Neo-fascists are growing in numbers and in influence and the political landscape is as polarized as it was in 1940 when the Nazis and Fascisti started World War II. Are things that bad now? I think so. If ever there was a time for us to put on our psychic Hazmat gear and clean out the BS it is NOW. Psychic pollution is a global problem that encourages self-betrayal so we all have a stake in cutting through it. Don’t play Blind Man’s Bluff in your life. Take off the blindfold and be your own fact checker.
But most of all, put loyalty to yourself FIRST and keep tuned to your BS Detection Network whenever you suspect you’re being treated like a mushroom: someone is feeding you BS and keeping you in the dark.
Books cited in this post are available HERE. in the Psychic Disturbances Category.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons.
© Delia O’Riordan 2012