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NoME Part One: Chapter 2: Session 814, October 8, 1977 9/61 (15%) flu inoculations season disease shots
– The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events
– Part One: The Events of “Nature.” Epidemics and Natural Disasters
– Chapter 2: “Mass Meditations.” “Health” Plans for Disease. Epidemics of Beliefs, and Effective Mental “Inoculations” Against Despair
– Session 814, October 8, 1977 9:43 P.M. Saturday

[... 12 paragraphs ...]

In order from the beginning — the passages on paranoia (in the 812th session) will come later. While Ruburt was working at one of his books a few days ago, he heard a public service announcement. The official told all listeners that the flu season had officially begun. He sternly suggested that the elderly and those with certain diseases make appointments at once for flu shots.

The official mentioned, by the way, that there was indeed no direct evidence connecting past flu shots with the occurrence of a rather bizarre disease that some of those inoculated with the flu vaccine happened to come down with.4 All in all, it was quite an interesting announcement, with implications that straddle biology, religion, and economics. “The flu season” is in a way an example of a psychologically-manufactured pattern that can at times bring about a manufactured epidemic.

[... 3 paragraphs ...]

Their belief systems, therefore, you must admit, are quite practical. Nor are they surrounded by medical professions. Later in the book we will return to the subject. Here, you have, however, what almost amounts to a social program for illness — the flu season. A mass meditation, it has an economic structure in back of it: The scientific and medical foundations are involved. Not only this, however, but the economic concerns, from the largest pharmacies to the tiniest drugstores, the supermarkets and the corner groceries — all of these elements are involved.

Pills, potions, and shots supposed to combat [colds and the] flu are given prominent displays, serving to remind those who might have missed them otherwise of the announcements [about] the coming time of difficulty. Commercials on television bring a new barrage, so that (amused) you can go from the hay fever season to the flu season without missing any personal medications.

A cough in June may be laughed off and quickly forgotten. A cough in the flu season, however, is far more suspect — and under such conditions one might think, particularly in the midst of a poor week: “Who wants to go out tomorrow anyhow?”

[... 3 paragraphs ...]

The flu season intersects with the Christmas season, of course, when Christians are told to be merry and [wish] their fellows a happy return to the natural wonders of childhood, in thought at least. [They are also told] to pay homage to God. Christianity has become, however, a tangled sorry tale, its cohesiveness largely vanished. Such a religion becomes isolated from daily life. Many individuals cannot unify the various areas of their belief and feeling, and at Christmas they partially recognize the vast gulf that exists between their scientific beliefs and their religious beliefs. They find themselves unable to cope with such a mental and spiritual dilemma. A psychic depression often results, one that is deepened by the Christmas music and the commercial displays, by the religious reminders that the species is made in God’s image, and by the other reminders that the body so given is seemingly incapable of caring for itself and is a natural prey to disease and disaster.

So the Christmas season carries a man’s hopes in your society, and the flu season mirrors his fears and shows the gulf between the two.

[... 2 paragraphs ...]

Many people, caught between such conflicting beliefs, fall prey to physical ills during the Christmas season particularly. The churches and the hospitals are often the largest buildings in any town, and the only ones open on Sunday without recourse to city ordinances. You cannot divorce your private value systems from your health, and the hospitals often profit from the guilt that religions have instilled in their people.

[... 18 paragraphs ...]

(Intently:) Disease must be combatted, fought against, assaulted, wiped out. In many ways the body becomes almost like an alien battleground, for many people trust it so little that it becomes highly suspect. Man then seems pitted against nature. Some people think of themselves as patients, as others, for example, might think of themselves as students. Such people are those who are apt to take preventative measures against whatever disease is in fashion or in season, and hence take the brunt of medicine’s unfortunate aspects, when there is no cause.

[... 13 paragraphs ...]

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