Not only do such states of mind lower the defenses, however, but they activate and change the body’s chemistries, alter its balances, and initiate disease conditions. Many viruses, inherently capable of causing death, in normal conditions contribute to the overall health of the body, existing side by side as it were with other viruses, each contributing quite necessary activities that maintain bodily equilibrium.
If [certain viruses] are triggered, however, to higher activity or overproduction by mental states, they then become “deadly”. Physically they may be passed on in whatever manner is peculiar to a specific strain. Literally, individual mental problems of sufficient severity emerge as social, mass diseases.
The environment in which an outbreak occurs points at the political, sociological, and economic conditions that have evolved, causing such disorder. Often such outbreaks take place after ineffective political or social action – that is, after some unified mass social protest – has failed or is considered hopeless. They often occur also in wartime on the part of a populace [that] is against a given war in which [its] country is involved.
Initially there is a psychic contagion: Despair moves faster than a mosquito or any outward carrier of a given disease. The mental state brings about the activation of a virus that is, in those terms, passive.
Despair may seem passive only because it feels that exterior action is hopeless – but its fires rage inwardly, and that kind of contagion can leap from bed to bed and from heart to heart. It touches those, however, who are in the same state only, and to some extent it brings about an acceleration in which something can indeed be done in terms of group action.
Now if you believe in one life only, then such conditions will seem most disastrous, and in your terms they clearly are not pretty. Yet, though each victim in an epidemic may die his or her own death, that death becomes part of a mass social protest. The lives of intimate survivors are shaken, and according to the extent of the epidemic the various elements of social life itself are disturbed, altered, rearranged. Sometimes such epidemics are eventually responsible for the overthrow of governments, the loss of wars.
There are also even deeper biological connections with the heart of nature. You are biological creatures. Your proud human consciousness rests on the vast “unconscious” integrity of your physical being. In that regard your consciousness is as natural as your toe. In terms of the species’ integrity your mental states are, then, highly important. Despair or apathy is a biological “enemy”. Social conditions, political states, economic policies, and even religious or philosophical frameworks that foster such mental states bring about a biological retaliation. They act like fire applied to a plant.
The epidemics then serve many purposes – warning that certain conditions will not be tolerated. There is a biological outrage that will be continually expressed until the conditions are changed.
1977.04.25 (Session 802: Individual and the Nature of Mass Events)