When proceeding through a divorce or child custody battle it is well established that your health may be compromised. The stress of these events can dampen the immune system making the body more susceptible to communicable diseases. Likewise, there may be a psychological impact that can adversely affect health. Finally, this period of transition may result in initiation, resumption, or increase in poor health habits as well as associations with people who model poor behaviours. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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In health classes and throughout medical literature you may have encountered diseases being classified in one of two categories; communicable and noncommunicable. Under an absolutists' view disease is readily classified into one of the two categories. I contend and endeavor to demonstrate here that such a dichotomy does not adequately represent the factors relevant to the proliferation of disease and that the spread of disease once considered to be noncommunicable is actually communicable.
I recently wrote about societal scripts and perceptions in Turning Negatives Into Positives Through Cognitive Modification where I made the point that the scripts that have molded our lens of consciousness can be modified. In this article I am again going to dispute some societal scripts. It is my premise that what are labeled as non-communicable disease are actually communicable.
Typically it has been ailments passed through infected fluids secreted by mucus membranes that are held to be communicable diseases. Communicable diseases may be subdivided into viral, bacterial, fungal, sexually transmitted, or contagions of insect or parasite origin. They are spread via various modes of transmission. Mononucleosis through saliva. AIDS through blood. Influenza through sneezes and coughs.
Ailments such as cancers, coronary artery disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, or Alzheimer's Disease are said to be non-communicable. They are dysfunction within the body due to environmental or lifestyle influences.
So let's examine what it means to be communicable. Communication is the transmission and receipt of information. Information can be transmitted through a diverse array of modes. Typically we think of speaking and writing -- we hear it or read it. Think of the blind who feel it. Think of how you determine if a food contains an alkali metal [salty], sugar [sweet], hydrogen [sour], toxin [bitter], or meaty/fermented [umami]. Think of encountering a stranger and determining his or her mood or level of friendliness. You can see from these brief examples that we are involved in communication continually without being conscious of it.
A virus, bacteria, protein or DNA strand are all information. Thus, when passed to you as an infective agent the information the agent contains is communicated to your body. It isn’t really the material passed to you that ails you but the information about contagion replication and your body’s defenses which allows the agent to divert your body’s resources to its benefit which it does. But what about the material passed to you that may ail you but doesn’t contain self-replication information?
What I am referring to here is the materials you deliberately put into body. This is the food and beverages, the drugs, the topical applications [soaps, lotions, cosmetics, deodorants], and the airborne particulate matter [air fresheners, esters, non-methane hydrocarbons].
For purposes here I will limit the array of these materials to commercially available products. So it’s the food and beverage products, the pharmaceuticals, the toiletries, and indoor air additives to which I will refer. All of these are advertised which influences our decisions on whether to use these products. The influences on our decisions whether to use products are most likely resulting from cultural exposure. Commercial advertising is usually limited to influencing immediacy of action or brand preference.
Our families, friends, cults, community, and even national identity can affect our decisions. Take cigarette smoking for example. Rates of smoking differ widely by country, family, community, and specific demographic. It has also changed dramatically over time. I see this in movies spanning nearly 100 years. What was once treated as part of the typical accoutrements of a social gathering is now rarely offered or accommodated in some areas.
A “no smoking” sign sends a message. A parent smoking in the home as a toddler looks on sends a message. When friends at a party pass a bottle and everyone takes a pill or drink a message is being transmitted and received. When an event host offers doughnuts or hotdogs that sends a message. When people give praises about the scent of perfume imbued homes that sends a message. Likewise when admiration is shown for someone covered with cosmetics that sends a message. When someone refuses to engage in an unhealthy activity and another gives a disapproving or puzzling look that sends a message. These actions all communicate thoughts about whether one approves or disapproves of a cultural norm which affects health.
Now I take you back to cancers, coronary artery disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, or Alzheimer's Disease which are generally thought to be non-communicable. These conditions and many others like them are nearly wholly environmentally triggered. That is, it takes the act of breathing, eating, or absorbing something for these conditions to develop. Now think about what triggers them.
What I have broadly referred to here as “food” actually includes garbage made to appear as food. Eating from this niche of consumables along with the manner and amount of consumption, and the modes of delivery, are largely responsible for those ailments. Other significant contributors are drugs -- especially if delivered via smoking -- and chemicals in topical applications.
The decision whether to inflict harm upon our bodies by using these items is influenced significantly by information communicated to us about them. It my be the facial expressions of our social group, highway signage, or what was inculcated through the daily practices of our parents. Also consider the influence of popular culture such as movies. In one I recently watched a character offered fruit juice to another who rebuffed the offer and requested soda instead. This was met with a scolding about soda being loaded with sugar. This demonstrates a clear cultural perception that fruit juices and sodas are on different ends of the healthful spectrum. But, fruit juices, other than citrus, are nothing more than sucrose extract of fruit - table sugar. So, I contend that ultimately these ailments are also communicable diseases.
Looking back to the viral, bacterial, or fungal pathogens we find preventative measures in protective wear, hygienic practices, and vaccines. These cannot protect us from this new class of communicable diseases though. There are analogous options though.
Protection from receiving the harmful information can first come from blocking it. As I previously said this information is advertised. For numerous reasons television broadcasts should not be viewed. Likewise advertisements encountered during internet usage should be ignored.
Next one should clean out his or her immediate environment. This means removing the harmful influences or staying away from them. This includes people as well as products. Places such as bars should be avoided. Paying for gas at the pump rather than being exposed to all the harmful products in the convenience mart can reduce the perception that those items are acceptable.
Psychologically, exposure tends to breed acceptance. This is when one is said to be conditioned. It’s the practice that cults use through the adoption of rituals, ornaments, symbolism, media and socialization. When cult images adorn the home, texts related to the cult are present and read, music or television programs are cult related, and the social network is limited to cult members then the message becomes inculcated.
If cult ideology, which is typically absurd and is delivered in a purposeful and blatant manner, can be inculcated through exposure then just imagine how easy it is to come to accept the cultural norms that are discretely applied. Fruit juice is an example of that. There is a cultural assumption that fruit juice is healthier than table sugar but the body treats them the same. Of course there are much broader cultural norms when it comes to consumables.
It is generally considered polite to accept and eat food products when offered. Likewise, the same was applied ubiquitously to alcohol, cigarettes and arsenic. People accepted these when offered purely as custom even though all were harmful and promoted disease. Well, I guess people refused arsenic because it would kill them. Over time society would come to reject smoking tobacco and consuming alcohol as a perfunctory element of polite socializing because it was apparent that they promote death also. The same is slowly and sporadically coming to fruition in regards to garbage manufactured to appear as food. Thus, the disease effect of the message communicated that these deadly practices were part of good and polite living has diminished as that message has been rebuffed.
A final consideration is the type of people with whom you may associate. Steer clear of people who are depressed, angry, hostile, negative, or despondent. They tend to overtly and covertly send messages about the world that can have a negative psychological impact and consequently have an adverse effect on your immune system. If you are in a child custody battle and participate in online forums related to this topic you may well notice a general victimhood attitude and worse. Just like association with a cult can adversely affect health so can the exposure to self-pity and outwardly directed action often espoused among these groups which behave quite similarly to cults.
Disease is almost purely a result of deliberate action -- the effect of choosing. So, to avoid “catching” one of the diseases primarily thought of as non-communicable you should choose wisely about the information to which you allow yourself to be exposed.
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