A Polytheist Reflection and Response to Convenience, Consumption, and Peak Oil Part 4

I had not planned a fourth part to this series, however, I was hit by something as I was sitting and experiencing this beautiful rendition of The Sound of Silence.  I went back to thinking about the series of posts that I have been writing lately on consumerism and peak oil.  I was thinking in how my father and I were sitting in the basement while he was smoking after he teared up while listening to it on Youtube.  He explained to me that he had had a lot of friends buried to that song, and it occurred to me to ask him a few things, among them, what songs he wanted to have at his funeral, and if it would be okay if I kept his skull.  This song and yes were among his answers.

We have such an odd relationship with death and endings in this country.  While there is a cyclical nature to my religion, there is a linear one in my father’s, and the predominant mythological/cultural narratives American society tells itself are, likewise, linear, for instance, the myth of progress.  It is very hard for folks to envision things past a certain point.  It’s not the main reason I connect The Sound of Silence to my work with peak oil, though.  No, what I connect with is one the overarching messages I get from the song.  That our things overtake our sense of self, connection, community, even the place of our Gods.  The lines that stick with me the hardest are these:

And in the naked light I saw, ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared, and no one dared
To stir the sound of silence

and this one:

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they’d made
And the sign flashed its warning in the words that it was forming
And the sign said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls, and whispered in the sounds of silence

This song sticks in my craw, especially lately, especially because of the dearth of silence I see in the needed conversations on peak oil and climate change.  That we have become overtaken by our things, that our need to have things have supplanted our need for connection.  That the very means by which we enjoy this very song, or as you, the readers read the words, or I as I type them, is all part of the collective death knell of modern human civilization.  This is so discomforting, that, like conversations on death, it is a taboo, a thing we dare not speak or give word to, lest we sound crazy or we dare to step out of line and suggest that another world is not only possible, but absolutely fucking necessary.  It is taboo, echoing in the well of silence.

The other reason this post kind of spoke up and said “Hey, write me,” is because of a comment from PSVL on Part 3.  While I did address e in the comments, between being prompted by The Sounds of Silence and the comment itself, I felt that e was right.  We do need to talk more about folks who aren’t able-bodied facing a future in which cheap, abundant fossil fuels are no longer available, and as a result, neither will our life-dependent medications.  Some of this will be retread of the comments, and some will be me responding having stewed on things a bit.

I wanted to respond to eir’s first and last points to start with:

While I think this is all good, I’m still utterly unimpressed with–and am downright horrified by–the attitudes of JMG, and certain other anti-capitalists we know of in refusing to address the situation of folks like yourself and myself who rely upon medications produced by corporate capitalism for our very lives, that (at least in my case) I won’t ever be able to wean myself away from, short of a miracle, and those are thin on the ground these days. By JMG, when I brought this up, I was told “Well, everyone has to die sometime”; and by the other, I got outrage that I’d ask that question, was told I’d be taken care of, and then was given no details or anything on how that would actually take place in his self-congratulation over how caring and compassionate he was toward poor non-able-bodied sods like me (in ideal, anyway).

and

The amount of privilege that those who practically glorify this matter and their “responsible” lifestyle in response to it enjoy by being able-bodied (at least for the moment) in these discussions is quite frankly disgusting.

I wish someone would actually address that.

No one from the Peak Oil movement that I know of or consistently refer to takes any kind of pleasure or glory from this being the future.  We can, however, enjoy the processes we go through to prepare for a power-down future, and make the Long Descent as pleasant as we are able in the meantime.  We can connect with community, create art, learn skills, write books, teach, and pass on knowledge.  To my mind, it would be better to glorify this responsible lifestyle than to pretend that the one that is touted by American society as ideal is at all sustainable or has a future.

I more or less stand by my original answer to em in this regard.  There is no answer for us coming from established sources.  Since we cannot control funding, research, dialogue, or the larger-scope top-down issues of addressing peak oil and climate change, or the associated complications of peak oil, climate change, and the therapies, medication, and other things that keep us alive, there are only local-level answers I could hope to give. Unless we do work on trying to find replacements for our medications now, or if we can attain some kind of homestasis in a sustainable manner that allows us to live in a powered-down future, a good number of us are outright screwed.  The truth of the matter is, that I don’t think anyone in the Peak Oil communities, or the anarchists, the permaculturalists, the government, researchers, or anyone else for that matter, has an answer for people who are this dependent on medication, therapies, and so on that are only available to us because of the energy output of fossil fuels, and all the industries it is used to run and make products for.  What methods there may be to address our needs in the face of peak oil and climate change, such as alternative therapies, herbal medicines, and tradition-specific medicinal approaches, may well have to be approached from a trial-and-error perspective rather than a rigorous scientific one if things speed up quicker than I am anticipating.

Addressing this from a different angle: what happens to the home healthcare industry (of which I am a bottom tier worker) when the downward slope of the Long Descent makes itself apparent?  It will disappear.

The result of that is nothing short of horrible.  There are clients, consumers, and patients within this industry that fully rely on people like me to give them care, to feed them, clean them, and so on.  What happens when the means by which we are employed vanish?  Some folks will soldier on, doing what they can until they have nothing left to give.  Most will leave.  This will leave the government and families a couple of options, assuming these folks have any family alive.  They can take them into their homes, set up institutions or like apparatus again, at least for a while, or leave them where they are.  Not an easy thought, and certainly not something I like to write about.  However, there we are.  Unless communities start coming together and addressing climate change and peak oil now, and addressing the issue of access to healthcare, this is the horrible reality we will be facing.

I’m paid about a dollar above what a crew member at McDonald’s is paid.  When I/my community gets land and we’re established, my plan is to leave this industry.  Not because the people I served don’t deserve the services, not because they are lesser than I, but because my tribe, my people come first, and the kind of work that will be required to make such a thing work, much less be successful, is a full-time job.

For those who stay in this industry, with as little investment as there is in health care, things will get even worse if communities do not actively come together to bolster and improve these services.  Many of the local movements I addressed in Part 3 may be able to address needs on a local level if they plan for it. I don’t, however, think they will be able to address all needs.

Please, though, do not think I am giving folks a pass on this.  This does need to be addressed.  Taking care of the folks who cannot care for themselves is a humane thing to do, and it requires our consideration for how best to do so.  It is also not a cruelty to say “These are our limitations due to budget, space, etc. What can we do to solve this problem?  Who can we look to for help?  How can we best serve these members of the community?  If we lack the means to serve these people effectively, what can we do?”  That, I think, is key: these aren’t just clients when this goes from a company and its employees doing a job into a community coming together to work on how best to serve these people.  They’re community members.  They have Gods who care for them, Ancestors who care for them, and live among the vaettir.  I am no less than an able-bodied person for my diabetes.  Likewise, those I serve in my current job capacity are no less a person than I.

I have a vested interest in seeing non-able-bodied and disabled folks taken care of.  I’m a disabled person (diabetes, asthma, ADD), and so is my son and my wife.  People I care deeply for, who are chosen family and friends are non-abled and disabled.  Hell, if my tics (which I’m now taking an anti-seizure medication for) get any worse, I may need a lot of help someday.  It’s in my interest and that of my families’ interests, and going outward from there, in my community’s best interests to have a vibrant, viable, and sustainable community that can care for its own.

The basic questions of infrastructure, and the points I raised in the previous three posts will still be factors that will need to be addressed in some manner.  Without these addressed, the job of those who remain or become caretakers, home healthcare workers, and so on, will be that much harder.  Transportation, medication, and compensation will all need to be looked at on a local level.  The same with the costs of healthcare, short and long-term.

We will have to take a hard look at what we can afford to do with what we have where our communities are.  We will need to do this now and in the future in a world where resources are already hard to find, becoming harder and more environmentally and financially costly to find, refine, and produce. We wouldn’t be seeing companies looking to hydraulic fracturing, deep-water drilling, arctic oceans, or tar sands oil if we had a whole lot of low-hanging fruit left.  The EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) doesn’t make sense without high oil prices, and all of them are incredibly environmentally destructive to boot.  Look at the BP Oil Spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, the ongoing damage to Alberta, CA with the tar sands strip mining and extraction, and the ongoing damage being done in the Marcellus Shale area of PA.  The only reason any of these more expensive, and thus lower EROEI methods of fossil fuel extraction, refinement, and use, have gotten any traction was the incredible explosion of oil prices and dropping supply.

When/if a big crash comes during our lifetimes, we’ll be some of the first casualties, as soon as the last of the insulin in the fridge runs out. Simple as that, unfortunately. Nothing anyone has ever said on these topics convinces me of any other possibility, because no one has ever floated any other possibility (other than the idiots I heard several years back who said “That’s why we’re raising cattle, so I can go on beef insulin.” Uhh…unless industrial levels of beef slaughter are taking place, not enough insulin will be produced, dummy, to sustain your life, and your little herd of twenty cows will not last you even a year for that) which is remotely viable.

As I said in my comment, I’m of the opinion/understanding it is not a matter of if, but when. I see one of two general outcomes.  The first, is that the economic house of cards comes to crash and all the lack of investment our country has collectively made in its infrastructure comes home to roost, as we’re seeing in places near where I live such as Flint, MI or the poisoning of the Kalamazoo River by Enbridge Energy.  The other is that peak oil will slowly suck what life remains from the country via increasing energy costs exacerbated by our lack of investment in infrastructure, and lack of preparedness for a powered-down future. I believe a combination of these two scenarios over a period of 20-50 years, maybe longer if more folks get on-board, is most likely, since the economy is almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels to do anything.

The only way that massive volumes of insulin are able to made is because of the meat and medical industry.  We can only do so much on a local level, especially in a powered-down future where the fossil fuels that helped a lot of folks to live goes away.  There’s only so much folks are going to be able to do, grow, or make.

And that you, I, and all of the polytheists in the U.S. and the world can’t actually do anything to stop or change this situation, no matter how local and active and right-relational we get with other things related to this situation might be, makes me absolutely angry and hopeless over this situation.

I liken this situation to Fimbulvinter and Ragnarök.  This is a situation that may have once been preventable, but it is one that we now face without that ability.  We can look forward, grim or joyful, but It is coming to meet us and we, It, through the weaving of Wyrd.  The big difference between The Long Descent and Ragnarök is that the Aesir, Vanir, Jotun, our Ancestors, and the landvaettir are with us should we be willing to ally, and will help us face this future if we are willing to do what we can where we can.  We’re not just living for our survival.  We will help to leave a world in which Lif and Lifthrasir can survive and thrive in.

So, I make of my anger, and times where hopelessness hits me, an offering to my Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and communities. I make of my education on how to live better with and upon Jörð and my other Gods, my Ancestors, and the vaettir, as an offering.  I make of the work I put my hands to as an offering.  I will keep going on, and do what I can to this end for as long as I can.  It is my duty.

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  1. Keen
    December 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I agree that there is no easy answer. But at the same time, it’s also worth remembering that while there are many people whose lives are sustained by the current level of technology, there are many more who still aren’t; these are people who are just as enraged at the idea of ceasing research programs to cure their ills as the currently ill and disabled at the idea of ceasing production of that which currently keep them (us, actually, for I am among them, and with cancer and chronic illness run rampant in my family, I expect to be less and less healthy as the years go by) comfortable and functioning in the way that the current pace of society demands of us.

    So while diabetics – or trans people who are satisfied with the current quality of medical intervention, or people with crippling depression, or… – may be “thrown under the bus” in a future of Decline, what of the people who face this reality *right now*? Maybe we have something we could learn from cancer patients, from those with chronic illnesses or disabilities who have no hope of seeing a “cure” in their lifetimes.

    Or what of those who live in more traditional, pre-industrial, pre-capitalist societies still? How do they integrate members of community who have cancer or who are blind or what have you? Diabetes, mental illness, and even the intense gender dysphoria that many contemporary trans people suffer from are all relatively modern phenomena. Without the globalized infrastructure to support cheap, processed sugar and corn syrup, the rate of diabetes will fall dramatically in a world of Decline. Without such pervasive mass media, technology, and marketing to engender a sense of alienation, rates of depression and anxiety will fall. Without a culture of work and consumerism so stratified along lines of gender, without compulsory cisnormativity enforced by a conservative medical establishment at – no, before – the moment of our birth, there will be less gender dysphoria, and fewer reactionary genders defined by abstraction over lived, embodied experience.

    So, yes. There will be casualties. And it will resemble something uncomfortably Darwinian. But still, it’s the adamant rejection of the hand we’ve been physiologically dealt that’s had no small part in the creation of this thing called “progress”, in the marriage between medicine, capitalism, and mindless resource extraction. I will not speak for anyone else when I say this, but while I’ve gotten help from medicine in the past, I do try to imagine and be humbled by a world in which I couldn’t have gotten my surgeries, and that I also expect to make peace with whatever awaits me in a future where, say, medicine for my possibly inherited glaucoma is too expensive or rare or nonexistent to get my hands on.

    • December 30, 2015 at 6:05 am

      “I agree that there is no easy answer…I expect to be less and less healthy as the years go by) comfortable and functioning in the way that the current pace of society demands of us.”

      Whether it takes a day, a month, half a year, or ten years to die from a disease, disorder, or illness, the problem will remain the same. We are living with an economic system that assumes it can demand infinite growth in its monetary system from a finitely resourced planet. Already the infrastructure is showing signs of fraying, whether one looks at the physical infrastructure of roads, or the patchwork the United States calls a healthcare system. I think that anyone who reacts to the system with anger, despair, frustration, or ‘let’s do something about this’ are all having equally normal reactions. Society’s demands on neurotypical and physically healthy workers are unsustainable and outrageous; it is even more so for those who are neither of those things.

      “So while diabetics – or trans people who are satisfied with the current quality of medical intervention… “cure” in their lifetimes.”

      One of the points I was making in this post is that it is on communities to make sure our own aren’t thrown under the proverbial bus. The way to do that is to prepare now, while we still have the resources to do so. People dying is inevitable; how we help ourselves and others to live in the meantime is at least somewhat within our control.

      “Or what of those who live in more traditional, pre-industrial, pre-capitalist societies still? How do they integrate members of community who have cancer or who are blind or what have you? Diabetes, mental illness, and even the intense gender dysphoria that many contemporary trans people suffer from are all relatively modern phenomena.”

      I see what you are getting at here, and agree that looking at how both living and past traditional and pre-industrial pre-capitalist societies live(d) can be useful, but I think speculating on any of these things in this manner is unhelpful. While living cultures, traditions, and religions can tell us how they handle such things now, and may be able to tell how they handled such things in the past, we simply do not know how most people through history dealt with these issues because these things were generally not recorded. If they were recorded, we have only a scant amount of recordings comparative to how many people could have worked with, encountered, etc. these things. I don’t see them as necessarily modern phenomena, but how we think about them may be.

      “Without the globalized infrastructure to support cheap, processed sugar and corn syrup, the rate of diabetes will fall dramatically in a world of Decline.”

      Given the genetic factors in place, I am not sure this is an assertion I can agree with. I think that putting our hands to the Earth, doing more things locally, and engaging in more human-oriented work will help reduce diabetes, but if corn and bread are overemphasized in a community’s diet due to all their uses in a community’s agriculture, the opposite may be true.

      “Without such pervasive mass media, technology, and marketing to engender a sense of alienation, rates of depression and anxiety will fall.”

      Perhaps over the long haul, but I actually see there may be a hard adjustment period in this regard that some folks will be unable to handle, or will be able to handle only after a great deal of struggle. We have folks who live by media. In the words of Howard Beal from Network,

      “We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even *think* like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God’s name, you people are the real thing! “

      “Without a culture of work and consumerism so stratified along lines of gender, without compulsory cisnormativity enforced by a conservative medical establishment at – no, before – the moment of our birth, there will be less gender dysphoria, and fewer reactionary genders defined by abstraction over lived, embodied experience.”

      I don’t agree. I think that this will be lived in various ways in different communities. Just as I think a local approach will be necessary to address peak oil and climate change, I think that predicting others’ futures in those communities from here isn’t useful, nor would it be very accurate.

      Let me put it this way: Let us say one day a family member, say the father in one’s family is a pastor and receives a vision from God to go out, and start farming. He’s a very well-placed member in the local hard-line Charismatic movement. If one is stuck in a community that is ultra-Christian and actually does all the things that would make survival a possibility in a Long Descent future, then gender discrimination, homophobia, and all the rest could still be a distinct possibility, especially if, in this example, the hard-line Charismatics also have a theological backdrop seeded with Calvinism or God’s Chosen ideology. Lived, embodied experience as a gender, sexual, or neuro-divergent person would be vastly harder in such a hard-line community, as opposed to an intentional community that survives the Long Descent where these gender diversity, sexual orientation, neurologically divergent people, etc. are held as being protected by the group’s organizational principles, law, culture, and/or religion(s).

      “So, yes. There will be casualties. And it will resemble something uncomfortably Darwinian. But still, it’s the adamant rejection of the hand we’ve been physiologically dealt that’s had no small part in the creation of this thing called “progress”, in the marriage between medicine, capitalism, and mindless resource extraction.”

      Agreed. This is an uncomfortable truth folks will be forced to deal with one way or another. I hope that many will begin to deal with them in proactive, helpful ways for themselves, their families, and communities.

      “I will not speak for anyone else when I say this, but while I’ve gotten help from medicine in the past, I do try to imagine and be humbled by a world in which I couldn’t have gotten my surgeries, and that I also expect to make peace with whatever awaits me in a future where, say, medicine for my possibly inherited glaucoma is too expensive or rare or nonexistent to get my hands on.”

      This is also why I think preservation efforts to save what technologies and techniques we can, from building to farming, animal husbandry and crafts, to healthcare that is both preventative, and emergency care all are important. This is why I have several medical textbooks, including body mechanics, massage, pills, and surgery alongside my herbal health and healthcare books. I also include books of fiction of all sorts alongside these non-fiction books, and those on philosophy, religion, and reference materials on gardening, farming, and so on. I like to take an ‘all of the above’ approach when it comes to preserving knowledge.

      I think that we still could carry a lot of our medical knowledge into the future. It would not be an impossibility to buy equipment and texts now, and retain the ability to make and use current basic surgery equipment and techniques into the future. Keeping up a culture of reading would be absolutely vital. Blacksmithing would be an even more valuable craft, then. Glassmaking could be too, as ways to make bottles and other items to secure and sanitize equipment, hold medicine, and make and transfer treatments.

      • Keen
        December 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm

        I see what you are getting at here, and agree that looking at how both living and past traditional and pre-industrial pre-capitalist societies live(d) can be useful, but I think speculating on any of these things in this manner is unhelpful. While living cultures, traditions, and religions can tell us how they handle such things now, and may be able to tell how they handled such things in the past, we simply do not know how most people through history dealt with these issues because these things were generally not recorded. If they were recorded, we have only a scant amount of recordings comparative to how many people could have worked with, encountered, etc. these things. I don’t see them as necessarily modern phenomena, but how we think about them may be.

        I meant that more as an exercise than anything encouraging pointed academic research – we need to look to other ways of taking care of people that doesn’t include convoluted technology or medical intervention. Obviously, this means not just shifting the goalposts, but rethinking the point of medicine at all. I believe that medicine’s role is twofold: first, to ease physical suffering, and second to ease social suffering by medicalizing otherwise benign causes of social stigmas. We will never have mastery over the former, but the latter is something we can definitely work on. In an essay called ‘Does Mental Illness Exist?’, the author concludes this:

        Biologically normal people can perform or engage in a very wide range of thinking and behavior, only a narrow portion of which is acceptable to people in any given society. People, including psychiatrists, assume without proof that any thinking or behavior outside what is socially acceptable in any particular society must be caused by a biological abnor­mality. This unfounded assumption results in people who think or do things others dislike being thought to have biological problems when in fact they have none. When you falsely blame biological abnormality for behavior or thinking you dislike, you have created the myth of mental illness.

        And based on my own lifelong experience with what some might understand to be many co-morbid mental illnesses, my research, and my knowledge of other people’s lived experiences, this would explain the vast majority cases of mental illness, and also as a trans person, I would say that this also explains most of the experiences of gender dysphoria I see. Much of gender dysphoria being fixable with a simple shift in social role via pronouns, or with the accumulation of “gendered” accouterments via capitalism. Seeing as how gender is a social construct and not a biological imperative – and the vast majority of trans people would agree with me here – then the “cure” for most of dysphoria and the related “mental illnesses” is social, and has little need for traditional medicine.

        This is a really great website with a lot of difficult, but important, stuff to read re: the non-physiological realm of medicine: http://www.antipsychiatry.org/

        I don’t agree. I think that this will be lived in various ways in different communities. Just as I think a local approach will be necessary to address peak oil and climate change, I think that predicting others’ futures in those communities from here isn’t useful, nor would it be very accurate.

        Of course it will be, but decline is decline (ignoring the possibility of mass wet bulb conditions, which I still hold to be a very real probability at this point in time), and the repercussions will be similar across the board. There will be less of everything, and there are only a handful of ways that communities tend react to scarcity under most circumstances, for better or for worse; it’s useful to look back on history to get an idea of how these scenarios might play out. But I will say this: in a world of scarce resources, consumerism as we know it will cease to exist, divisions of labor as we know it will cease to exist, and mass media – that primary driving force that creates such intense feelings of alienation and mass DP/DR to support the aforementioned consumerism – will cease to exist. And without those, I don’t see any reason why rates of gender dysphoria as it is currently experienced will remain the same.

      • December 31, 2015 at 4:45 am

        First, I want to apologize if you checked back here and the post was waiting for approval. Usually WordPress auto-approves posts when they are made, but for some reason it flagged the post this time.

        “I meant that more as an exercise than anything encouraging pointed academic research – we need to look to other ways of taking care of people that doesn’t include convoluted technology or medical intervention.”

        Ah, okay, I was clearly getting the wrong impression. Thank you for clearing that up! I’m not disagreeing with your point here at all, especially because in a Long Descent future, convoluted complex technologies and fossil fuel dependent medical intervention may simply not be possible in the ways or means we know today.

        “Obviously, this means not just shifting the goalposts, but rethinking the point of medicine at all…myth of mental illness.”
        A current lack of evidence does not a case make. For a long time there was no germ theory of disease, and so, diseases were recognized and cures were prescribed based on the idea of humors and other diagnosis methods that have passed from physicians’ and doctors’ favor. Just because the thoughts were in line with the time does not make it factually correct. Collecting quotes from various psychologists, psychiatrists, and so on, no matter their credentials, does not make them correct in the author’s assertions here, either. The meat of the article here quoted tries to make the case that mental illness does not exist by contrasting past incorrect models of diagnosis and disease modeling with today’s.

        The author’s central point that they constantly refer to is simply flat wrong: “Mental “illness” or “disorder” is anything in human mentality greatly disliked by the person describing it. “

        Developmental disabilities, as an example, are a form of mental disorder that are physically caused. While they may not be ‘cured’, i.e. in cases where irreparable damage to the brain has occurred and neural networks cannot make new pathways to compensate or work around the damage, their symptoms may be worked with using in whole or in combination physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, medicinal therapies, and so on. Being unable to communicate, eat, sleep, and other interferences with normal bodily and cognitive function are hardly examples of a human mentality greatly disliked by the person prescribing it. It is something able to be clearly pointed at as interfering with normal healthy function of a human being’s life. Normality of thought itself is culturally defined, which is why the DSM does not prescribe direct methods for determining a healthy grief response, for instance, in the criteria for mental/psychiatric disorder. However, we can point to clear signs as to what distress, pain, and harm to quality of life are.

        If being wrong about diagnostic methods, therapies, medicines, and so on disqualified fields of science to be able to render diagnostic criteria, diagnoses themselves, therapies, surgeries, and other methods of address illness, disorder, and disease, then no scientific field would withstand this scrutiny. A field of medicine and/or study being incorrect in a place and time does not invalidate the whole of a field save when the field itself is shown to be factually incorrect in some fundamental way. Eugenics was one such field.

        “And based on my own lifelong experience…then the “cure” for most of dysphoria and the related “mental illnesses” is social, and has little need for traditional medicine.”

        The problem with applying anecdotes universally is that they’re more than likely to be wrong in at least one, if not many cases. There may be biochemical reasons for a given person’s gender dysphoria, whereas the great multitude may be generated in response to socially constructed strict gender roles, or an absence of gender roles that fit folks within a given population. Without properly conducted research, it is rather hard to say with any amount of scientific weight that the opposite is not true either.

        The notion of ‘traditional medicine’ you use here is also one I find interesting, considering that when I think ‘traditional medicine’ I do not think of modern Western medicine. I think of herbal remedies, massage, spiritual working, spiritual healing, divination, as well as older methods of physical diagnosis that included the spiritual realm as part and parcel of diagnosis and treatment.

        I am not actually fundamentally disagreeing with you here, and I am not interested in debating your anecdote itself because your experience is your experience and that in and of itself is not without merit. If we agree that gender itself is socially constructed, and I do, then what we are describing is, in all probability, incorrectly ascribed and diagnosed as a mental disorder or illness and rather is a normal response to strictly defined gender roles. That does not mean, though, that we can simply write off gender dysphoria as a disorder. The NHS overview here provides a good insight into why. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/Pages/Introduction.aspx

        “more recent research suggests the condition may actually be the result of the abnormal development of a baby while it is in the womb, possibly as a result of genetic or hormonal factors, which causes the brain to develop a gender identity that is different to the baby’s sexual organs.”
        This does not mean this or the DSM’s current view, diagnosis or understanding will be the one, true, and only definition of gender dysphoria, or that it will always and forever be accepted as a medical diagnosis. If we get to a point where medical research and scientific understanding has reached the overwhelming consensus that gender dysphoria is not properly understood as a disorder then the diagnosis will be dropped from use, and if it is not, its meaning may be refined to reflect better research. At the moment, due the lack of research made apparent by the above quote, this is something worth delving into and getting a far better understanding of.

        Scientific inquiry itself is a result of making hypotheses, testing them, and refuting and/or refining theories. In medical, psychiatric, and psychological fields, this may mean changing or dispensing with diagnostic criteria, treatment, and so on no matter how long a treatment has been prescribed or how long a diagnosis has been on the books.

        “This is a really great website with a lot of difficult, but important, stuff to read re: the non-physiological realm of medicine: http://www.antipsychiatry.org/”

        I will be checking this site out. In the meantime, I am only writing from my reaction to the first article posted.

        “Of course it will be, but decline is decline (ignoring the possibility of mass wet bulb conditions, which I still hold to be a very real probability at this point in time), and the repercussions will be similar across the board.”

        Would you mind digging into mass wet bulb conditions a bit? This is the first time I have run across this terminology, and I’m trying to be sure I understand what you’re talking about before I respond to it. I have done a Google search looking it up, but I want to be sure I am on the same page here.

        “There will be less of everything…without those, I don’t see any reason why rates of gender dysphoria as it is currently experienced will remain the same.”

        Consumerism, labor, and our known ways of life as we know them ceasing to exist is to be expected when the means for their continuity goes away. It is my hope that a great many prejudices will go with it when people start pulling together.

        I want to be clear in that personal and overarching narratives are incredibly powerful forces, and that my words above do not, in any way, erase this idea. Just before or right around the same time I ran into The Archruid Report, I read Narrative Medicine and Coyote Medicine by Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D. back to back. It helped me to really recognize that a diagnosis is a very powerful narrative, especially in our culture. Given my own work as a priest and shaman, I recognize the very powerful effect that narratives have on our lives, that stories impact us in ways that various scientific fields have just started to recognize, and that the unfolding of these stories not only can say powerful things about us, but give direction to our descendents and/or kith and kin, whether they are chosen, by blood, lineage, or adoption.

  2. December 22, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I completely understand your and eir’s concerns about people who are NOT able-bodied in our community as I am someone with chronic pain that is getting worse. At this point, I am trying very hard to NOT be on intensive pain medications because if there is a crash, I won’t be able to get them.

    What we need to do is invest ourselves with KNOWLEDGE, such as how to make clothing from natural fibers — because that will be the most valuable thing in that event

    • December 30, 2015 at 6:13 am

      I agree with your assertions on knowledge as an investment.

      Something my primary doctor noted to me, which was damned refreshing coming from someone in the medical profession, was that a good deal of our medicines are derived from herbs, flowers, and the like. Much like my point above to Keen, I think that retaining our ability to make medicines from what we have at hand is vital. If you are having chronic pain issues and you are concerned about access to intensive pain medications in a Long Descent or crash scenario, if you can grow replacements with requisite strength I would get started as soon as possible, or work with others to do the same. It may not be a wholesale replacement for the pain medication you have, but it may help. I’m doing what research I can on diabetes and herb and other non-pill non-insulin medicine that may help with it.

  1. December 28, 2015 at 5:29 pm
  2. March 24, 2016 at 3:43 am
  3. March 24, 2016 at 3:51 am

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