Lacking a psychology, hygiene could not penetrate certain depths of human experience nor treat certain subjects, namely trauma. Trauma doesn’t happen every day. It lies beyond one’s control. Change of habit affects it little. It just strikes. Suddenly it incapacitates whole systems, distorting their character and behavior beyond recognition. Trauma is the most influential force in our lives besides life itself. Hygiene was helpless. All it could do was pass the buck to doctors or priests. This subordinated hygiene to medicine and religion for over a century.
This limitation disappears with two changes:
- the acknowledgment of trauma as the root of all illness
- the discovery of darkness as the essential means nature provides us to heal from trauma
Hygiene becomes a complete system of health capable of addressing every illness people face, physical and psychic. No longer need anyone bear the perennial costs and failures of medicine and other semi-scientific systems rooted in the mystical doctrine of original sin and practice of exorcism.
By healing from trauma, we not only end dysfunction and suffering. We can prevent unconscious repetition of trauma through common disasters like car crashes, familial breakdown, and psychosomatic illness. It is that simple.
Medicine can only deal with trauma after the fact. Its tricks for treating it impress us, and we respect the willingness of doctors to try. Though if medicine we science, it could explain, predict, and prevent further trauma. But look at all the attention it puts on treatment. It represents a declaration of failure to understand and of helplessness to eliminate the cause of our recurring disasters.
We are all a moment from relief, days from restedness, weeks from healing, and months from total recovery from ten millennia of abysmal problems, failure, and suffering. The cause of joy—an organism restored to wholeness—is at hand.
Safe in the submarine of our new understanding, we will plumb the depths of the hygienic use of darkness. We will begin by reviewing and critiquing hygiene’s existing framework for understanding illness: its incisive pathology. Then we will go beyond it in frank discussions of trauma, psychosis and their deeper social and natural causes (cataclysm). We will finish with an outline of a new and hygienic psychology, which promises to unleash hygiene’s power and lift humanity from its debilitated state.
Pathology is the study of disease: its symptoms, causes, and nature. Pathology guides our response to disease. Every school of health has a generalized pathology and theory of disease. Many schools are named for their pathologies because they are basically oriented toward disease: homeopathy (homeo: same), naturopathy, osteopathy (osteo: osteo), allopathy/medicine (allo: other). In hygiene, pathology is a sub-system we call orthopathy (ortho: correct).
The doctrine of original sin says life is inherently corrupt and impotent. Accordingly, allopathy views disease as natural and unavoidable. No matter that life must be healthy to exist at all. Or that near-universal health in the rest of nature contradicts the idea of our sinfulness. Allopathy just doubles down on its mystical assertions while pretending to be rational and scientific. It views health as an equally unexplainable stroke of luck. “You have a good constitution,” they say, as if that is a helpful explanation. But they see nothing really wrong when people get sick. It’s just how life is. Medicine is not an abject failure.
This is why doctors gloss over causes. They often speak in tautologies, substituting diagonosis for explanation. For example, “Your bowels aren’t working because you have Crohn’s disease,” as if the name is an irreducible primary, with nothing left to investigate. It’s just life expressing its weak, morbid nature. They might deign to look another level of causation down in explaining illness. But this goes against their premises. They usually skip right to symptomology and treatment, germ theory of disease in hand.
The germ theory of disease says microscopic invaders cause disease. We are victims of infection. The organism is helpless. The doctor is capable and must fight, overcome, and root out the germs with drugs, treatment, and surgery. This is what I meant by exorcism.
However, germs don’t always result in the disease associated with them, and they aren’t always present in it. On the other hand, a distinct pattern of vital factors and lifestyle can be detected in those who suffer and a quite different one in those who don’t. The differences reveal the decisive causes and their ordinary character. In response, medicine has continually moved the goalposts with new diagnoses. Logic does not apply to holy war. People generally tire of this hairsplitting. They just want to be well so they can get on with their lives.
By contrast, the hygienist’s rational and benevolent view of disease keeps him cool as a cucumber. He does not react. He observes. He studies. Disease is a normal function of an organism under poor conditions, not a foreign entity to attack and expel. Hygiene makes the time necessary to correct allopathy’s drunken imbalances with careful etiology (study of causes).
This reveals the poor conditions and the ordinary ways to correct them. Indeed, a careful client of a hygienist is really a student and soon learns to take care of himself, then his family and neighbors. It’s open source health care. Viral, so to speak.
In the 1930s, with a century of prior art to work from, hygienist Dr John Tilden formulated the seven stages of all chronic disease. Each stage describes what happens as our energy level declines ever lower. Note that a sick person can move down the steps and become sicker, or up and become well. It is simple cause and effect. Hygiene proves in theory and repeatedly demonstrates in practice the reversibility of the trend.
seven stages of disease
- Enervation: Nerve Energy is so reduced or exhausted that all normal bodily functions are greatly impaired, especially the elimination of endogenous and exogenous poisons. Stage One thus begins the progressive and chronic process of “Toxemia Toleration” that continues through all of the following stages. The Toxic Sufferer does not feel his “normal self.” He feels either stimulated or depressed by the poisonous overload.
- Toxemia: Nerve Energy is too low to eliminate metabolic wastes and ingested poisons. These toxic substances begin to saturate first the bloodstream and lymphatic fluids and then the cells themselves. The Toxic Sufferer feels inordinately tired, run-down, and “out of it.”
- Irritation: Toxic build-up within the blood and lymph and tissues continues. The cells/tissues where build-up occurs are irritated by the toxic nature of the waste, resulting in a low-grade inflammation. The Toxic Sufferer can feel exhausted, queasy, irritable, itchy, even irrational and hostile. During these first 3 stages, if The Toxic Sufferer does consult a medical doctor about the reason for his low energy and irritability, the doctor tells him: “There is nothing wrong with you. These symptoms are ‘all in your head.’ You are perfectly healthy!”
- Inflammation: The low-grade, chronic inflammation from Stage Three is leading to the death of cells. An area or organ where toxicants have amassed next becomes fully inflamed. The Toxic Sufferer experiences actual pain, along with pathological symptoms at this point. With the appearance of these symptoms, the medical doctor can finally give The Sufferer’s complaint a name. Traditionally, medical scientists have named many of the 20,000 distinctly different diseases after the site where the toxins have accumulated and precipitated their symptoms. Once the set of symptoms is conveniently named, the doctor can mechanically prescribe the “antidote” from his Physician’s Desk Reference or from his memorized medical/ pharmaceutical repertoire. Standard medical doctors thus commence drugging and treating at this stage.
- Ulceration: Tissues are destroyed. The body ulcerates, forming an outlet for the poisonous build-up. The Toxic Sufferer experiences a multiplication and worsening of symptoms while the pain intensifies. Standard medical doctors typically continue drugging and often commence with surgery and other forms of more radical and questionable treatment at this stage.
- Induration: Induration is the result of long-standing, chronic inflammation with bouts of acute inflammation interspersed. The chronic inflammation causes an impairment or sluggishness of circulation: and because some cells succumb, they are replaced with scar tissue. This is the way we lose good, normal-functioning cells — by chronic inflammation and death of cells. Toxins may or may not be encapsulated in a tumor, sac, wen, or polyp. The Toxic Sufferer endures even more physical pain, which is intensified by the emotional distress of realizing that he is only getting worse, regardless of his earnest, obedient, even heroic attempts to get well. Standard medical doctors continue with both drugging and surgery and all other kinds of modalities deemed appropriate, both conventional and experimental. (“Induration” means “hardening” or “scarring” of tissues.)
- Fungation (cancer): Cellular integrity is destroyed through their disorganization and/or cancerous proliferation. Tissues, organs, and whole systems lose their ability to function normally. Biochemical and morphological changes from the depositing of Endogenous and Exogenous Toxins bring about degenerations and death at the cellular level. The Toxic Sufferer is “a pathological mess”: he is on his deathbed. Standard medical doctors declare at this stage: “There is no hope left. You have just so much longer to live. You need to make preparations accordingly.” Failure of vital organs eventually results in death.
Tilden’s analysis shows the close relationship between enervation and toxemia as the two most obvious causes of all illness. Indeed, they play a huge part in ongoing symptomology. It explains hygiene’s success for two centuries in supporting the recovery of countless people whose cases allopathy had pronounced hopeless merely by putting them to bed with plenty of water and fresh air, and not poisoning them with drugs. If afterward, they could quit the ultra-toxins of coffee, tea, tobacco, cut back on activity and stress, increase rest, fast sometimes, move away from polluted areas, learn to eat better, take up exercise, then they would heal. It happens every day without media fanfare.
But for many, doing all that is a big if. If they do not make the necessary lifestyle changes, then hygiene is unable to help them. They drift back to medicine or some alternative. A few get lucky. The rest find ways to cope with semi-recovery or perish quietly.
We note the text’s emphasis on toxemia: internal uncleanliness. This characterizes both hygiene’s Puritanical character, Tilden’s focus, and the box canyon medicine put hygiene in after 100 years by reducing it to cleanliness. Its pathology has had a missing link, undermining hygiene’s status and success. Early hygienists did not grasp the arch-importance of trauma and could not deal with it. They viewed it as unrelated to the more important issue of chronic illness, as mere mechanics best left to surgeons. Hygiene unwittingly lent allopathy mythic power by surrendering to it the imperative of trauma.
Also, most hygienic physicians start as allopaths. The fascination with surgery seems hard to shake. It makes people seem powerful on nature’s scale. It affirms civilization’s fear of nature and the body. It reinforces the unconscious feeling of infantile helplessness following trauma. With their little swords, doctors acquire the status of gods for engaging the dragon of trauma, the source of all pain, the repository of all power.
We seem caught in a strange dream, half-waking and prolonged. But rather than force ourselves awake with treatment, substances, or discipline, hygienic darkroom retreating lets us sleep it through. Hygiene has always been a kind of physiological judo, not resisting but using the force of disease to bring resolution. It is calm, understanding, effective. Rather than wait for trauma to replay its disastrous drama in our lives, we can take hygiene’s peaceful, reassured approach to resolving it once and for all.
In the course of days alone in a darkroom, psychic trouble from one’s past inevitably comes to the surface. Buried thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories of trauma sometimes become conscious as the psyche repairs itself. This is not the torment of endlessly reliving the past, but part of final recovery from it.
Why are these things so deeply buried?
Trauma causes the first four stages of disease immediately. The organism surges into action with the shock and sudden demand for energy, nutrients, circulation, and hormones to manage pain and awareness. Meanwhile, incapacity and malfunction snowball.
Consciousness contracts with trauma. It withdraws from the world and higher functions like reflection and reason to stabilize critical functions. Awareness of the painful event itself is unnecesarry, often disturbing the process. Thus trauma manifests as amnesia and denial: the inabilities to remember and to admit.
In movies, an individual is injured, cannot remember his old life, has a new adventure. Few of us have personal experience of anyone like this. Why do such movies continue to draw crowds? It is because we all suffer a kind of amnesia and recognize ourselves in these stories.
In fact, our amnesia is called infant or childhood amnesia. Who remembers his birth or first years? More to the point, who would want to? People and even “scientists” generally believe that memory does not reach back that far. But indigenous people and less traumatized civilized people routinely demonstrate something else, casually recounting details of leaving the womb, meeting their parents outside, and encountering the world around them for the first time.
Denial is not moral failure. It is unconscious success. Devastating trauma usually occurs in infancy. It overwhelms the fragile structure of an infant’s consciousness. Denial locks down basic functions, preventing trauma from shattering psychic integrity. Otherwise it would cause death, as with SIDS—Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Escaping with autism or blindness, for example, beats dying. Denial is biologically maintained until the psyche heals enough for to bear witness to the horror of what was denied.
In darkness, damage begins to heal. Denial begins to lift and traumatic events are remembered or acknowledged. As the general capacity for feeling is restored, frozen ones resurface. Insight comes. The organism paces this sometimes intense process with great care. The fact that it is happening proves you have the capacity to handle it.
Gaining confidence in this capacity take a little time. In protocol > discomfort, I describe some ways I learned to moderate intense memory and feeling in darkness in the meantime. In a series of reports, I have recorded my experiences in darkness of beginning to heal from major trauma.
What trauma? I mean the routine brutality of our lifeway, which touches virtually everyone from before birth. I mean not just the bad things we condemn, but common atrocities we mistakenly accept. I mean our many offenses to nature, as if it hadn’t already worked out every detail of a happy existence from the beginning of time.
I’m going to list common examples of the plague of polite violence I refer to. One of my editors, a wise and loving man, has warned me I will lose readers by doing so. I see no way around it. Here’s hoping you can take it.
- unintentional conception and ambivalent pregnancy
- birth intruders (doctor, midwife, priest, etc)
- post-partum attachment failure (through physical separation, exhaustion, and emotional unavailability)
- vaccination, circumcision
- formula-milk, pacifiers, illegal public nursing
- being unheld, unslept with, unnursed, and diapered
- absent, pushover, smothering, abusive, and negligent parents
- nannies and day care
- cribs, playpens, strollers (the worst designs of all time, which crystallize alienation in the nervous systems of billions.)
- television, computers, games (screen technology causes not mere atrophy, but lifelong damage to the imaginative faculty when much used at critical phases of development.1)
- factory food (including unripe harvesting, chemical farming, genetic modification, irradiation)
- and finally, the last nail so big it splinters the coffin: school.
The violence of job, military, hospital, the street, and prison go without saying. My point is that things just as bad are happening to people with a thousandth the strength to endure them.
Of exactly what brutalized you, you may already have some idea. I invite you to find out for sure in darkness, where you have a real chance to recover from it once and for all. Between retreats, the depth psychologists mentioned below can also help provide words for what you are going through.
Let’s finally get it through our numb skulls: no adult can get brutalized day in and day out for years without being affected. How much worse is it for an infant? We are not indestructible. We are vulnerable to injury. This is not a flaw. It is the conditional nature of organic existence that defines life and makes our spectacular adaptability and resulting ecstasy possible.
Personal failure results not from weakness or cowardice. It indicates psychophysical malfunction from deep damage. It was not our fault but the result of disaster. We are not weak or bad. We are hurt. We don’t need to work harder. We need time to rest so we can heal. We ought to take a mass leave of absence and find comfortable places to collapse.
Damage from major psychic trauma is real. It is deep. It persists through generations until it heals.2 Meanwhile, it disrupts everything else in our lives: memory, reliability, conscientiousness, poise, digestion, sleep, circulation, motivation, clarity, etc. Everything. The mounting disaster motivates us to take it seriously. We can heal from it. We just need basic, decent conditions in which to do so.
Lastly, unconscious psychic trauma often expresses itself somatically: as physical illness. If you are physically ill, you may well find psychic wounds underneath your condition, wounds of surprising intensity. These wounds are doors. On the other side of them lie unexpected paths back to physical health.
Until now, hygienists have regarded the primary causes of disease as enervation, an excessive lowering of vitality, and toxemia, a general poisoning, mostly from internal waste but also food and environmental poisons. These, hygienists have asserted, come from poor habits.
But whence came poor habits? Why would a healthy creature engage in anything less than the perfectly suitable without cause, out of the blue, and persistently? It doesn’t make sense. In light of the awesome influence of trauma, it is obviously a deficient explanation.
Much of this comes straight out of modern depth psychology: Wilhelm Reich, Jean Liedloff, Frederick Leboyer, Arthur Janov, Alice Miller, Alexander Lowen, Joseph Chilton Pearce. In describing routine civilized brutality, they took heroic stands for humanity. Only, they did not imagine the psyche could repair itself without therapy.
Suffice it to say I’m no scientific materialist. This quaint philosophy holds that humans are so special that nature has exempted us from from its laws; and that anything generated through science (and by civilization itself) is inherently good. Find excellent elaborations of the humor in this idea in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and Rupert Sheldrake’s critique of scientism.
The human organism is resilient in some ways and vulnerable in others. Darkness provides our autonomic selves the opportunity to fully put these qualities to healthy use, righting unfathomable wrongs.
We call people and situations crazy all the time. But what if our colloquialism were clinically accurate? What if it were precisely what is wrong with us, and we have been right about it this whole time?
Sages throughout history have observed in us civilized people a pattern of mass functional psychosis. Mass means universal. Functional means able to survive long enough to raise children to reproducibility. Broadly, psychosis means psychic illness: trauma, exhaustion, toxification—absorption of poisonous ideas, attitudes, emotions, and behavior—and the resulting dysfunction in thinking, feeling, and moving intelligences. Dysfunction leads to failure and displeasure both physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Sure enough, sickness, unhappiness, and confusion (or dogmatism) characterize civilized people. Such comprehensive chronic dysfunction is the principal sign of our psychosis.
Narrowly, psychosis means the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. Our particular fantasy is that the sliver of reality we are aware of makes up the whole of reality. Anything that doesn’t fit into our postage stamp-worldview gets ignored or crushed. We can’t help it. It’s the inevitable pathology of mass major psychic trauma.
The sliver consists of the grossest part of reality. Scientists call it spacetime: three maneuverable dimensions of space, with one dimension of time, the present, locked in forward motion. Being grossly sensible, spacetime is especially amenable to intellection and mechanical manipulation. Thus our hypermental, industrial lifeway. We emphasize thinking at the expense of feeling and, to a lesser extent, action, which we make machines do for us. Obsessive control of this sliver enables enough of us to survive each generation to imagine we are doing as well as possible.
Some of us, however, find this delusional. We have experienced joy. And on the other hand, we cannot help but see the widespread proofs of mass psychosis:
- righteous wars against the innocent
- controls in the name of freedom
- poverty amidst mind-boggling wealth
- useless work and wearisome recreation
- undernourishing overfeeding
- confusing philosophy and soulless religion
- alienation—civilization’s calling card
- mass depression, anxiety, schizophrenia
- lifestyle diseases (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease)
- stupifying education
- sickening health care
I could go on, but you could, no doubt, extend the list yourself. Perhaps you have wept over the world’s desperate madness. Perhaps you have wept over your own.
Normally, calling something crazy halts further consideration and conversation. After all, “you can’t fix crazy.” So what use is it to think or talk about it? Is it even craziness, or is it just human nature, as we have long assumed? That is what religion says, and it is thereby rendered helpless as nothing overcomes nature. Conventional psychology has failed to fix our craziness, and school after school capitulates to psychiatry’s narcosis, the medical version of the original sin/it’s just human nature mythos. Mass psychosis is the biggest elephant in our room.
I submit, we are actually crazy. We weren’t always. But something went terribly wrong and here we are. Happily, we are alive, therefore self-healing. So somehow we can recover.
What would we recover? Common sense, memory, and honesty. Joy and empathy. Strength and vigor. Just for starters. But much more awaits us. When the thinking, feeling, and moving centers of intelligence function again, and in harmony with each other, life will improve to an unrecognizable degree.
I mean engagement with the other basic plane of reality. Because it mirrors spacetime, some cutting edge scientists call it timespace: three dimensions of time—past, present, future—and space fixed to one location at a time.3 Kogi Indians call it the aluna. Australian Aboriginals call it dreamtime. They access it at will for daily living. It is how they can track someone 100 miles through the desert a year later with only a scrap of his clothing. Or go out and meet a scarce deer in the middle of nowhere to bring back for food.
Dreamtime is perceived primarily through the feeling center of intelligence, not the senses. It is intuition. With psychic integrity, it can be just as precise as the eyes aided by a microscope, but at great distances.
The feeling center, being more fragile than the sensorium and less aggressive than intellect, rarely works well among us civilized people. So to scientific materialists, dreamtime doesn’t exist. They dismiss it out of hand despite millennia of evidence. Which even most civilized people have some of. I mean strange experiences that stick in one’s mind, unexplained for decades like personal X-files. If you talk about this stuff in conventional settings, others will call you crazy. But if you rest in darkness long enough, access to it promises to return permanently.
I will not dwell on something you must see for yourself, as you will in darkness. But this vast and rich side of life that we largely miss must cease going unremarked in psychology and hygiene. It is stupid and embarrassing. The academy likes to ignore the two other great bodies of human knowledge: the spiritual and the indigenous. We will not.
I figure we are currently functioning at 2% of capacity. In other words, things with us are as bad as they can get while still allowing us to reproduce. To embellish the idea, at 1%, you’re institutionalized, 0%, dead. 3%, a local hero. 4%, somewhat famous. 5%, a national star. 10%, a genius. 20%, a saint. 30-40%, a messiah.
The greatest people in our history had to lower their level of functioning from a normal 90-100% just so we could stand their otherwise overwhelming presence. But what did each of them say, one way or another? All this and more ye shall do. This is our task. And the first person to raise from the dead is oneself.
If the hygienic view of health and sanity is the brain of my method, and darkroom retreating is the gut—the action—then the testimony of mass functional psychosis is its broken heart. My online essay, psychosis, records it purely and forcefully.
Pathology is the study of illness, especially its etiology: the chain of cause and effect that leads to symptoms.
Hygiene is radical because it deals unflinchingly in first causes. It begins by observing that health is the normal state of organisms under normal conditions. Life itself started out in integrity and health. Nature cannot generate a diseased species. Disease only occurs when something goes wrong with conditions, when harmful ones are present and beneficial ones are absent or in poor proportion.
This gives hygiene a rational standard for evaluating conditions proposed as beneficial. Hygiene asks, what normal relationship to life does this condition have? Did its absence cause the disease in the first place? If not, then its presence won’t correct matters and we can dismiss the proposal.
In the case of using darkness to heal from psychic illness, well, once upon a time, we were deprived the shelter we instinctively sought in order to heal from whatever traumatized us. We got hurt but got no chance to heal. Resting in a darkroom finally addresses this little-noticed intermediate cause of ongoing suffering and illness.
Why were we deprived? One way or another, our parents, our source of shelter, were also the source of our trauma. Busy inflicting one, they could not provide the other. It is the terrible truth we all know and spend most of our lives avoiding.
Of course, they suffered similar trauma at the hands of their parents. It rendered most of them incapable of providing us such shelter and compelled their inhumanity toward us. They denied us rest just as they denied their own need for rest, just as their parents conditioned them to, just as their parents were equally traumatized, denied, and conditioned, going back 400 generations. On this level, everyone is innocent.
However, everyone exists on many levels, not just such abstract ones. On a concrete level, all parents remain responsible for what they did and did not to children in their care. Only by viewing parents as responsible can we be responsible parents ourselves. The double burden is too much. Those who shield their parents from justice, even privately, inevitably unload the injustice they suffered upon their own children.
Major trauma injures, shocks, and disorients everyone concerned. One gets lost in the slow-motion nightmare of its infliction. Who deals the wound and who sustains it? Who was helpless and who was at fault? Of course grown-ups start it with kids. But kids feel it is their fault. Lines blur and before they know it, people have become their parents and the cycle begins again.
How did the snowball of trauma begin?
Sane people do not hurt their children. Nature does not generate diseased species. Humanity had to have started off alright. The self-correcting instinct of healthy animals is too strong to violate merely by will or persist in by accident. Life pulls us back onto the right track no less than other animals—when we’re healthy.
The trauma had to have originated externally. It had to be huge to knock so many of us so far off course and disable us so badly we couldn’t begin returning for so long. Major trauma to an individual or one group would not be enough to do this. Individuals would be helped back to health. Groups would be aided by neighbors as with disaster trauma. We must think bigger.
A global cataclysm in our distant past must have started it. It wrecked everything in one stroke for entire continents of people, so that there was no one left to help. Perhaps it was multiple supervolcanos. The flood. A pole-shift that swept continents with earthquakes and tsunamis. A comet strike. An alien invasion. Whatever it was, the result was cataclysmic trauma.
Cataclysmic trauma is comprehensive. It kills most people and nearly all elders, who would best manage things, and injures most of the rest. Neighbors cannot help. Nearly everyone in the whole world is in the same straits. Infrastructure is lost: shelter, food, water, habitat. The landscape shifts, becomes dangerous. Climate itself changes. The basis for a way of life is wiped out.
Going into caves to rest and heal is common among undomesticated people and animals. But even if someone left knows to do it and the cave remains accessible, too many people need it for longer than it is comfortable. The infrastructure is gone. People have no chance to heal. They only have what is inside them. The young tend to survive, but they are less psychically established, with less wisdom to temper the damage. Life, which had been abundant, pleasant, and easy, becomes a grim battle to survive.
Psychic trauma causes psychic malfunction. Mass psychosis begins.
In this barren hell, where can people find comfort? In each others’ arms, of course. Voluntary birth control, common among indigenous people, is lost with many other subtle capacities. Babies start coming at especially inconvenient times in unexpected numbers. Cataclysmic trauma starts its terrible transmission through the generations.
It changes forms but keeps its intensity. Technology compensates for lost capacity. Society rearranges itself into civilization to absorb the cosmic blow and find slightly less harmful ways to deal it back. As horrible as it frequently gets, still it is the best we can do. Despite all, life keeps generating seekers to find its secret. Clue by clue, it is assembled over hundreds of generations. At last, the truth dawns.
What if we are the butt of a cosmic joke?
If so, then our wars, big and small, are pointless. No one started it. No one need be punished. Everyone is essentially innocent, thus free to walk away from the conflict and heal.
Trauma is natural. Trying to prevent all of it is futile. Hope lies in having a way to recover from it.4
In light of the essence of hygiene, conditional self-preservation; the restful use of darkness; and the cataclysmic origin of disease, a hygienic psychology can now be outlined:
- As organisms, we start out healthy, happy, and harmonious
- Global cataclysm Early major psychic trauma from civilization’s routine brutality leaves us damaged, malfunctioning, and suffering.
- The psyche, as an organic system, is self-healing, provided the proper conditions.
- The primary condition of healing is rest due to the homeostasis, stillness, and accumulation of vital energy it makes possible.
- Profound psychic rest occurs physiologically in an extended period in absolutely dark environment.
- Therefore, by retreating in darkness, we gain relief, rest, and restoration to health, happiness, and harmony.
Hygiene upholds basic findings of psychology from several traditions. Hygiene merely shrugs at psychology’s conscious over-involvement in the unconscious. The unconscious is competent to fix itself if minimally supported by the conscious. The conscious is otherwise helpless. We are correct in believing we have a problem and need to do something about it. We have been disastrously incorrect about which part of the self has to do it.5
Focusing on deep psychic rest in absolute darkness is new in hygiene. Until now, it has focused on the profound physiological rest of fasting due to its naive pathology. Fasting has been hygiene’s ultimate means of dealing with serious illness. At most, hygiene recommends keeping curtains and eyes closed during fasts because it reduces the significant work of sensory processing of vision6. A darkroom retreat embodies this principle fully while providing the energy and, frankly, the psychic security of food until the underlying psychic system necessary for fasting comfortably has repaired itself.
In other words, the psychic system is more fundamental than the digestive and eliminative systems. Darkroom retreating is thus more urgently needed than fasting in most cases.
Furthermore, darkroom retreating is inherently much safer to do alone. In darkness, awareness of internal sensations and their meanings becomes clear and fine-grained. This integrity and knowledge intensifies motivation to learn hygiene. Fasting requires basic psychic integrity, self-knowledge, and a comprehensive grasp of hygiene in general and fasting in particular. Thus hygienic darkroom retreating will open the door to unsupervised long fasts on a wide scale.
Professional hygienic fasting supervisors attempt to substitute themselves for these prerequisites of fasting or teach them in the usual slow, incomplete way. Consequently, only hundreds of people fast per year in a remotely proper way, not the billions who need to. Hygienic darkroom retreating recontexualizes the work of fasting supervisors. Retreating in darkness themselves, they will regain the capacity to operate at a global scale, not just with the lucky few.
As in fasting, one hardly knows in darkness what the organism is doing at its deepest levels. Occasionally there is a chance to consciously participate in the process. Or to find out why things have gone wrong if it is important to change ideas and behavior related to it. At mostly one feels discomfort or a strange subterranean rumbling.
But one always knows the result: restoration of function—recovery of the lost self—usually accompanied by feelings of contentedness, presence, and euphoria. Darkroom retreating reveals the marvelous self-healing power of the organism under proper conditions. But for those who have suffered and failed for years with other approaches, the process is nothing less than miraculous. As with the rest of hygiene, time in darkness shows that if one wants a miracle, one need only provide its conditions.
And then? Healed from trauma, one will no longer be compelled to repeat it. One will absorb and redeem its history and consequences. As with the rest of hygiene, hygienic psychology’s bad news is much worse, and its good news is far better than anyone dreamed.
The emergence of a hygienic psychology; the identification of trauma at the root of all illness; and darkness’s greater importance than fasting for resting and healing have massive implications for hygiene’s pathology and destiny, and humanity’s as well. Hygiene has said illness originates with enervation (low energy) and toxemia. Trauma explains how these conditions themselves originate. And in coming to terms with trauma, hygiene can finally meet and obsolete allopathy (Western medicine) in its stronghold. I discuss these implications further in hygiene notes.
I am only saying enough here to give you a solid basis for beginning to do hygienic darkroom retreats. If you like what happens, further study is natural. For a thorough introduction to hygiene’s principles, practices, and intriguing history, read Shelton’s
The Science and Fine Art of Natural Hygiene.
Joseph Chilton Pearce, Evolution’s End ↩
This provides the unconscious motivation for the current over-fascination with genetics, a negligible and corrupt quasi-science shot through with distrust of life and mechanistic control-freakishness. ↩
This echoes one of Gurdjieff’s main points that a proper psychology and method of living will enable people to deal with life’s inevitable shocks. See Ouspensky’s incomparable spiritual text, In Search of the Miraculous. ↩
Psychologists Michael Meade and James Hillman say it all with the title of their 1993 book, We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—And the World’s Getting Worse. ↩