Wellness Consciousness

I don’t often write about health, but today I have something to add to the conversation. What I’d like you to understand is that being free of sickness is not some distant dream. It is, in fact, something that real human beings are presently enjoying, even for decades at a time.

I’m not claiming a perfect prescription for long-term health, you understand. I’m just passing along things I’ve come to know. Every person is different and every circumstance is different. And, of course, luck does play some role in this, even if it comes down to inheriting a healthy set of genes.

Still, I am certain that if people were to give this some attention, many more people would be sickness-free, and for long periods of time at that.

What Chuck Heston Reluctantly Admitted

I’d like you to take a look at this clip of Charlton Heston, taken from a long-format interview with Dick Cavett. As the clip begins, Cavett and Michael Crichton had been discussing the problems of medical practice and hospitals. And then, as you’ll see, Cavett turns and asks Heston if he fears hospitals.

What you’ll learn then is that Heston – 46 years old at this time – had never really been sick. To me, he seems a bit reluctant to get into the subject, and I think I know why: So many people get sick so often – seemingly everyone – that he feels a need to pull back from the subject. His admission is the kind of thing that can generate negative comparisons, and thus envy, which can be a real danger.

Most people, of course, focus tremendously on sickness. To some extent that’s understandable; sickness kills, after all. But a focus on sickness also primes us for it, as I’ll explain a bit further below. You can even hear people talking about how sick they’ve been as a badge of honor.

And before anyone treats Heston as merely a freak of good luck, I’d like to add that I’ve know other people, less famous, who’ve also been sickness-free for long periods.

One of these people was a doctor my parents knew. One of my dad’s best friends in life was a doctor, and this man’s partner in practice came to the belief that sickness was primarily mental. And so he trained himself to fight it mentally. As of 1972 or so, he hadn’t been sick in twenty years. I don’t know what happened to him after that, but he was about 50 years old at the time.

I know another gentleman who has been sickness-free for quite a bit more than twenty years. He’ll have the occasional runny nose or weariness from overwork, but almost nothing more. And he doesn’t talk about it.

I further suspect that there are a significant number of others who enjoy long-term health, but avoid talking about it very much. Since many people are so accepting of getting sick as a norm and so terribly status-conscious, talking about such a thing is a recipe for making others feel bad.

How Does It Work?

Here again I’ll tell you what I know, and you can make up your own mind and/or pursue it as you see fit.

The first step seems to be this: Just stop expecting to get sick. If that sounds trivial, please try to do it. Between big pharma’s endless TV advertisements, the annual winter fear-fest and the sickness-is-the-norm expectations of those around you, it’s a lot harder than you’d think.

Expectations are immensely powerful, and while the ties between what we expect and what we get can be murky, they are often quite real. People who train themselves not to be sick – energetically fighting the expectation of “I’m getting sick,” among other things – very often do not get sick.

Another useful piece of the wellness puzzle came to us from the study of cellular receptors and neuropeptides. Here’s how I explained the basics of this in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men:

Emotions are not just a mental thing. When you experience almost any strong emotion, special molecules called neuropeptides pour into your bloodstream. These molecules bind with receptors on your cells… and cells can have thousands, or even a million receptors each. In this way, your emotions are transmitted all through your body.

This is pretty well established science, by the way, beginning with the discovery of the opium receptor by Candace Pert in 1978.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that expecting to get sick might prime our bodies to get sick… and that expecting to be well might prime our bodies to be well.

I can’t prove this scientifically, of course. I have neither the time nor a crew of loyal medical researchers. But it is measurable.

All That Said…

All that said, I am convinced of two things:

  1. By expecting themselves to get sick… even to gain some sort of status or acceptance from it… millions of people are sick far more often than they need to be.

  2. That by cultivating a wellness frame of mind – of obstinately rejecting sickness – a large number of us can enjoy long-term wellness.

These things I have seen repetitively, and I think they are deserving of both study and effort. Moving from a sickness consciousness to a wellness consciousness offers immense benefits. Please try it.


Paul Rosenberg


Seeking Refuge


A good deal of my life has been spent in a half-conscious search for places where a healthy person could function as a healthy person: places where health was accepted rather than resented, where it didn’t have to be hidden.

Such places have proven to be scarce. The healthy man or woman is all too often taken as a threat, rather than a friend to perhaps learn from. This stems from the status obsession that has infested mankind. By it, another person’s health undercuts your value as a person.

Perhaps the most common coping technique for this in our time is for people to overtly condemn anything they can brand as evil. (This is the root of polarized Blue/Red hatred in the US, for example. Each side is obsessed with the sins of the other.) Each time they can condemn evil, people feel they are rising incrementally up a moral status hierarchy. But in so doing, they are centering their minds on evil and corruption, which is toxic.

But please understand that, by “centering on evil,” I do not mean that people are striving to be evil. What I mean, rather, is that they are arranging their minds and lives in reaction to evil. They endlessly uncover, define, catalog, and condemn all the evil in the world, and by doing so, darkness, fear, and threat become enthroned at the center of their minds. They see evil on every side and cannot conceive that a health-centric mind is even possible.

I am fully convinced that this is a devolutionary mentality. At first I grasped at this concept instinctively and intermittently, but now, at length, with some understanding.

Who’s Healthy?

It’s not all that hard to define who is healthy and who isn’t. A healthy person is kind, benevolent, curious, reasonable, and acts with integrity. An unhealthy person is conformist, legalistic, takes advantage of others, and enjoys belittling people and things.

We might add to these lists – and people do move between the categories at times – but I think a basic healthy/unhealthy divide is easy enough to see.

Fortunately for us, far more of us are healthy now than in the old days. Slavery is gone, justifications for cruelty are mainly gone((Justifications for the cruelty of the state remain, but these too are weakening.)), and people are simply better than they were centuries or even decades ago.

For this we should be thankful, but it also remains that millions of people, especially any who are noticeably healthier than their neighbors, are to one extent or another punished for their virtues.

Refuges, Old and New

For all the flaws and abuses of the churches of the West, it is true that churches have often been refuges for the healthy. Operating within a church, or at least by being associated with it, people could do exceptional things without being overly exposed to consequences. This was especially true during the most decentralized periods of Western history, including the eras when great talents were supported by clerics and nobles.

Even in modern times, church has been a safe training ground for exceptional musicians. In church, for example, the great singing voice was treated as a gift from God, rather than a threat to those less gifted.

Radical Christian groups have sometimes served as refuges, but only those that were sharply dedicated to following Jesus, “walking in the spirit,” and so on. Put in nonreligious terms, those pursuits are simply “striving to become healthy.” (Debating doctrines and rules are fundamentally otherwise.)

Some nonconformist groups were refuges as well. You can find coverage of this in issue #16 of our subscription letter.

Many good families have provided refuge of course, but existence apart from the family is necessary too.

The ability to be openly healthy (or at least smart) was often an underlying appeal of the cypherpunks.

The internet, particularly in its early days, provided a safe way to be healthy. It was far more anonymous in those days; as the joke went, “No one on the internet could know if you were a dog.” Anonymous forums now serve the same purpose.

And finally, we now have a large and thriving cryptocurrency community, where talent is welcomed rather than resented. It is therefore no surprise that healthier-than-average people are gravitating toward it.

Last Words

The status model destroys us all by inches, but the healthiest among us far more than others understand. Simply from a species-preservation standpoint, this is a horrible error.

Status, I maintain, is not hardwired into us. I think that’s a false belief, and more than that, I think it’s an excuse. We are better than that, and it’s time we started acting like it.

So, find refuge as you can, my friends, but whether within or without a refuge, strive not to diminish yourselves.

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Paul Rosenberg