Letter from the Editor: A Word on Psychic Protection

 

We’re all affected by the vibrational frequencies in our environments to varying degrees because all people, places, and objects emit energy.  On an atomic level, these vibrations could be seen as existing somewhere between consciousness and matter. What we feel and how we behave are subject to subtle modulation based on the mood of a landscape, the attitude of a person, and the feeling of a building. 

 

The practice of psychic protection, which can involve mental exercises and meditations, is based on the idea that we can consciously control both the transmission of our own positive energies, and shield ourselves from damaging ones. It can be used in situations where one feels anxious, drained, or stressed. It can also be one of many tools to help guard against the psychic pollution created by toxic forces in our society — powers that push racist, sexist, exploitative, or ecologically damaging agendas, for example. Although these practices are mental, they are ultimately meant to ground you in your physical body, firmly rooted on earth.

 

Practitioners of psychic phenomena believe that a person under psychic attack is vulnerable to negative emotions but also to compromised physical health.  Whether we decide to protect ourselves by getting a vaccine, taking a vitamin, or wearing a black tourmaline necklace, there’s an underlying belief in all of these practices that there are invisible forces which, through the power of action or intention, we have the ability to manipulate and control. 

 

Our immune system is our primary means of protection against germs and infection.  And unlike the clinical language around atomic science, the language of immunology frequently alludes to narrative: “natural killers” are cells capable of destroying white blood cells, for example.  The term “host defense system” highlights the belief that that we are essentially separate from our bodies and must mount an attack against the microorganisms that live within us.  The immune system “under attack” becomes a metaphor for the collective feeling of corporeal vulnerability in a world over which we have little control. 

 

The use of this kind of language emphasizes a belief deeply rooted in Western science and culture — the binary between the body and the mind — that we “have” an immune system, a mind, or a body.  In her Manifesto for Cyborgs, Donna Haraway wrote of a world in which “people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints.”

 

Distinctions between self and other are likewise called into question with the commodification of bodily materials (blood, bones, cells, organs, and tissues) and their biomedically-enabled transference between bodies.  Because I was born with a Primary Immune Deficiency, my immune system doesn’t produce enough antibodies to fight pathogens, which until recently, left me susceptible to frequent colds and infections.  In 1987, the FDA approved a type of treatment for this condition, which I began last year.  The treatment, which has brought much improvement, involves injecting an antibody-rich serum under my skin every other week, a single dose of which contains donated samples from thousands of different people.  I am continuously receiving the commodified life force of others, absorbing and incorporating their cells into my own.

 

The science of immunology states that immunization against disease is only effective if it is adopted by a large portion of the population -- meaning effectively that our individual health depends on our collective action.  If we think of ourselves as not just having individual bodies but also social bodies then we can see that health is not just an individual but also a social issue.  We are all already polluted.  We have more microorganisms in our guts than we have cells in our bodies -- we are crawling with bacteria and are full of chemicals.  We are, in other words, continuous with everything here on earth and in the Universe.  Including, and especially, each other.

 

--Natalie Labriola