"All cruelty springs from weakness"
Is the ancestral health "scene" cannibalizing itself? At large, this point has been made many times; that the commonalities between "keto", carnivore, paleo, primal, etc. are whitewashed by their differences. Meanwhile, at least vegans all agree on one thing.
We should raise a skeptical eyebrow at such attitudes, particularly the closer to our inner circle (and thereby ourselves) they come.
I can't help but feel like something's missing. We have podcasts like The Natural State and Fundamental Health; books like A Dose of Hope and Brain Energy, all doing an incredible job of bridging disciplines and attempting to speak to integrative approaches to treating "root causes."
I also can't help but see myself in my clients sometimes. One man, in his mid 20s, is well aware of names you're all familiar with – Andrew Huberman, Jordan Peterson, etc. – eats a generally keotgenic diet, and is riddled with anxiety.
One day, in order to interrupt a rambling cognitive downward spiral about his daily productivity routine, I stopped him and said:
"Why the f* does any of this matter?"
He stopped and looked at me, so I continued:
"How did people manage to stay happy and healthy before 'bio-hacking' was a thing or before influencers told them what to do?"
The client looked puzzled, but inquisitive, becoming more aware of the blindness of his obsession.
Book stores are still a thing, I think. Self-help is consistently in the top 3 book genres, and even tops "fitness and dieting." Yet, as a therapist, I still have a job. Arguably, in more need than ever.
Books can teach you a lot and, not for a lack of trying, are woefully inadequate regarding:
- holding a person (emotionally or physical),
- build communities, and
- cultivating compassion
The printing press isn't even 600 years old and oral traditions expire at about 10,000 years (1). So, the answer to learning the above doesn't seem dependent on either writing or speaking given that our species has been collaborating for about 250,000 years.
Where is the "help others" section of the book store?
Have we, in lieu of "treating the whole person" and addressing "root causes", bypassed the fundamentally human process of attachment?
Meat, eggs, and organs can go a long way towards your health – yes, that includes biologically driven trauma and corresponding psychological issues. Will it address fundamentally dysfunctional attachment styles and their adjacent pathological personality traits?
My opinion is "no." But, you can decide for yourself, not based on what others (myself included) say, but by looking closely at what they do – too you, to themselves, and especially those they disagree with or who have wronged them.
"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him."
~ von Goethe
To me, this is a glaring black eye that gets me shot from every side. The pharmacists want to solve everything with a pill, the surgeons with a scalpel, the psychologists with (often too many) words, the nutritionists with food, etc.
Depending on the context, none of them are wrong, but they're all missing something – each other. If you think a barbell or a "more ancestrally congruent" diet, essential oils, reverse osmosis water filters (all of which I use) alone will restore the wounds of your trauma I'd ask you to reconsider. Specifically, re-evaluate your desperate need for control and "optimization."
It's not because you're "weak" or "broken." You are strong and your cause noble. You are, in spite of your best efforts, missing the very thing that gets ripped away by T/trauma – your person, your identity, your humanity, your connection between the world you exist in and the world you experience.
Maybe it's the inherently petty nature of social media pitting us against each other. Maybe we're deep inside 1984 waiting for V for Vendetta and will retire into Minority Report or Gattaca. Wall-E seems inevitable for my grandchildren.
So few people are willing to actually have an intelligent conversation with people they disagree with. They'd rather shout obscenities and assert their moral virtue; yes, this includes many in the carnivore / ancestral-health spheres as well. They are zealots of a different color and the same shade; just like the modern American political system.
Whether I agree with the principle or not, the process is disgusting.
Abe Maslow's hierarchy of needs makes great rational sense. Perhaps it's soothing, even self-confirming (ironic, I know) if you're of the ilk that prioritizing the foundational tiers restores the higher tiers.
That's an ideology I tend to agree with. I want to agree with it. It seems easier that way, but I also can't help but wonder if Frankl and Rumi completely invert the whole damn thing.
Frankl spent 3 years in a concentration camp watching his father (starvation), mother (execution), brother (execution), and wife (infection) die before later writing the book "Man's Search for Meaning." So, perhaps that hierarchy is backwards, or maybe cyclical?
Man's Search for Meaning vs. Toward a Psychology of Being would have been a helluva coffee shop chat. One that no doubt happened with great influence long before the era of "likes and shares."
By contrast, "body positivity" has somehow morphed from loving yourself to normalizing pathology.
If you get out of breath tying your shoes or walking to the mailbox, spend half your paycheck at the pharmacy, or visit the ER every quarter I'd guess there are a lot things in life you're not that happy about.
Real empowerment is giving someone the freedom to change because the they want to, for themselves; not because A, B, or C on TikTok said you should do X, Y, and Z. Do it for yourself. Do it because the alternative is easier. Do it because everyone wants to give you a pat on the back for inventing another socially acceptable reason why not.
Back to the client I mentioned earlier. Why does any of this matter? Because it has to, to you. How dare we resent the world for our frustrations; as if it would care let alone change on our behalf. But there's the rub. Change has always been an inside job; starting with yourself.
The video above makes an important point. Imagine if you could optimize the one (chaotic) thing that actually makes life worth living (love); how boring and awful would that be and how stripped of joy would existence become? On the flip side, trying to convince someone they're "okay just as they are" is a cop-out that marginalizes their suffering.
While we're addressing root causes – be that with steak or psilocybin, sunshine, exercise, or psychotherapy, let us be mindful of what and who we love and if we're acting in a way that creates more of that in the world.
Humans have been watching each other far longer than we've been speaking, writing, "like, share, or subscribing." So, let your actions speak. The message maters little if the overriding tone is one of resentment. The truth is always spoken whether it's with your words or not. So, make sure you know what you're communicating and how it's being received.
If your immediate response is "I don't care", then there's your answer. Whether you care or not is irrelevant to the fact that other's perception of and response (back to you) influences you. How do you think you got to such a pathetic wretched stance in the first place?
"I am a world before I am a man
I was a creature before I could stand"
~ Slipknot, Before I Forget
"You are not a drop in the entire ocean
You are the entire ocean in a drop"
PS: Further Reading:
I didn't read the above piece by Michael until this newsletter was already drafted. Though, it'll be hard to convince anyone that my later publication wasn't written as a response. Regardless, there's an eerily similar tone. I don't believe in coincidences, so there must be something in air between ATL and SLC.