FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

If Only Your Body Could Speak to Your Mind

For thousands of years humans have defended themselves from harm by others. But many have proceeded to regularly harm themselves. They have actively searched for substances to ingest, inhale, inject and apply which may give them some immediate relief but damage or destroy their lives over time.

Why do these humans so beat up on their own bodies? Obviously, they know that damaging behaviors have serious consequences, both immediately and in the long run. Why have health care professionals had such a hard time convincing people “to do no harm” to themselves? The persistence of partial self-immolation is unremitting.

What’s different about recent centuries from prior millennia is that addiction, masochism, slow-motion suicide have become big business. Now there are huge profits to be made in seducing, tempting or deceiving people at all ages to spend money to harm themselves.

The addictive industries – like tobacco, legal and illegal drugs, gambling, and excessive alcohol – are marketed with remarkably proficient psychological expertise ranging from the overt to the more subtle subliminal persuasions.

These vendors like to start with their victims (a.k.a. consumers) when they are young. The tobacco industry has known this for generations. Hook ‘em when they’re 10 or 12 and you’ll have them for life. So has the junk fast food business that has perfected ways to turn young tongues against young brains.

As former FDA Commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, has written, including about himself, junk food has clear biologically addictive impacts that drive cravings for more of the same. Obesity levels worldwide are hitting 13% and skyrocketing, reaching over 30% of adults in the U.S. or triple the level of 40 years ago.

The injurious consequences of marketing self-harm are the widely known diseases and traumas we read about – heart trouble, diabetes, cancer, lung and liver diseases and more. Those are the inventories for another big business that diagnoses and treats with varying degrees of competence tens of millions of patients. The side effects of many treatments – hospital induced infections, bad medicines and surgeries – create more business for more treatments.

There is, of course, a wellness industry as well, though it doesn’t come close to the trillions of dollars of the addictive industries and their profitable collateral damage. Preventative health care – good diets, exercise, smoking cessation, drinking alcohol in moderation, adequate rest – is growing in acceptance. Pollution prevention, safer products and services are also beneficial.

Somehow the pro-health forces always seem to be confronted with new hazards coming on fast. The highly addictive opioid epidemic – for supposed pain relief – is now taking almost as many lives as those lost on the highways – over 30,000 last year. The New York Times reports fentanyl, the pain reliever that took the life of Prince, is 30 times more powerful than heroin. Self-medication is getting easier and rising casualties mark this trend.

So does anyone have any ideas? With all the apps, websites and blogs, is there any effective answer to the question of countering self-harm that has plagued Humankind forever? Would it be focused family upbringing? Sure. But obviously that leaves out many people who do not have that good fortune.

Oh, if only the vulnerable livers, kidneys, hearts, intestines, stomachs, cardiovascular systems, lungs, teeth, ears and eyes could directly speak and admonish the recklessness of self-destructive practices coming from the brain!

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail