I began my journey in the world of spirituality out of sheer desperation to heal from nondescript mental health issues that remained impervious of Western medicine.
I got lucky. I ran into “Havi Brooks” from “The Fluent Self”, whose approach to yoga was more mental health than physical yoga, and that helped me learn the basic concepts to heal myself.
Incidentally, it has also helped me see where everyone else is getting stuck. It’s kinda part of the deal.
The Covid pandemic is laying bare for all to see some truly unsavoury facts about the World of Woo. I can see where everyone is getting stuck, and maybe saying something will help, who knows.
The Nature of “Projection”
It’s thanks to Havi that I learned the meaning of “proxy”. I use the word “projection” because I think it makes it more accessible.
I don’t mean the definition psychologists use it for. I use it to mean: what happens when people cannot “deal” with something and so they attribute extraneous qualities or stories on to other people or things.
Basically what happens is:
People are bugged by something
They can’t deal with it
They make up something weird to help them deal
We all project regularly because our culture doesn’t do a good job at teaching us how to “deal”.
The world of spirituality and “woo” should be aware of this… but it isn’t. The Buddha did not talk about anything else (pretty much) but learning to “deal” so you would think we would be experts at it. You would think we would have mastered “projection”.
Yeah… We haven’t. Why? There could be many explanations.
The healing practices are not as effective on a Western population as they are on the very people who came up with them
We got a lot more to deal with than other humans at other times
But let’s look at one big reason why the world of woo lends itself to projection.
Why is the World of Woo vulnerable to projection?
There's one key problem with any alternative healing modality and no, it's not that "it doesn't work": it's that they are "alternative”.
Even when it is not intended, people are likely to subconsciously project "magic" or "supernatural" effects to it, precisely because it is not "mainstream". Or, if you prefer: our culture doesn’t have healthy narratives for spirituality, and so anything the alternative healing people teach will get distorted; people will associate it with what they know, ie: “it must work predictably like science” (that would be “The Secret”) or “it must be imaginary”.
It only takes a small leap for people to start projecting all kinds of fantasies onto this mysterious, esoteric thing that is "not mainstream". It’s almost inevitable: we inadvertently begin to assume that what isn’t possible in the “mainstream” is possible in the “non mainstream”. Read this again because it’s important.
This is bad enough, but then people begin to think of themselves as “non mainstream” and therefore “special” and “better”.
The examples are infinite. There was a young woman on tiktok claiming that she and her family could not get sun burnt because they follow a vegan diet.
Classic case of projection.
The belief that not doing what the rest of the people do, not believing what they believe, will make one "special", "better" and "superior" is embedded in our culture, because this is how elites operate. The wealthy do believe that they are superior to the rest of us because otherwise they wouldn’t be wealthy.
And the human ego, left unchecked, begins to follow this precise path.
When people cannot talk about their struggles and suffering, they project. They will fixate on some other thing that they *CAN* talk about, and this thing will become a stand-in for the other thing they are can’t talk about.
People who believe the vaccine to be poisonous are *this* close to going into full blown meltdowns over being persecuted by the government.
You know WHO is being persecuted by the government? Homeless people in California. And yet no one has gone into a full blown meltdown over that…
Funny how that works, isn’t it? Think about this for a long second. When the government does something truly heinous, when it actively, unquestionably oppresses people, we don’t find viral videos of the oppressed having meltdowns in shops.
Why would that be? Is it because the oppressed have a long history being oppressed and are somewhat used to it? Is it because their oppression is real and therefore an embarrassing meltdown would be unnecessary to state the bloody obvious? Or is it because when oppressed people fight back against their oppression, there are serious consequences?
It’s all of the above.
People are *this* close of having panic attacks because of a vaccine, something that millions of people get every day. There must be millions of people vaccinated by now, and nobody can say it’s been all that negative, so why the panic? Projection.
The easiest way to know whether someone is projecting is to look for a uniformly applied standards. In other words, if the vaccines are a sign of a totalitarian state, what about literally everything else? I mean how would you call it when the government and private corporations are literally one entity? If the persecution of the unvaccinated is a sure sign of authoritarian Fascism, then what do you call the government’s hate campaign against disabled and unemployed people during the coalition government in the UK?
And what about Edward Snowden or Julian Assange? How many people suddenly distrusting the government’s vaccines has taken an issue with the US government’s persecution of whistleblowers? Or does that not mean an intrusion into anyone’s freedom?
To be clear: a lot of people who oppose vaccines and believe them to be another example of government tyranny also oppose every other instance of government tyranny. These people exist and I know some of them. But they are few and far between.
If someone is ardently opposed to vaccines and yet remains quiet about all the other forms of tyranny, then that’s a sign of projection.
Why are they projecting?
A lot of people are suffering right now, for lots and lots of reasons. However the “mainstream consensus” is that everything is more or less OK. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are “individual problems”. But there is no systemic analysis to those problems. Fox news, for instance, or Al3x Jones, are a long laundry list of problems that never add up to a coherent narrative. Their content is *all* projection.
Once again: if people cannot talk about something, they will pick on something else they *can* talk about and use it as a “stand-in”.
OK, Mary, so the woo woo people are projecting, fair enough, but why? What is really going on?
Oh, so many things.
Specialness. Difference. These are people whose entire identity is built around being “different” and outside the mainstream, being the rebels, the outsiders, the people at the vanguard of society bringing a new world in. Then Covid shows up, treating everyone the same, and then the government puts measures in place treating everyone the same and all of a sudden they can’t deal. Specialness is shattered.
Money. You can’t lump all Covid-denialists into the same income bracket, true, but some light can be teased out. For those with money, Covid involves being lumped with the masses and being told what to do, something the moneyed classes don’t respond well to. For those without money, there are very good reason to distrust the government and the professional class it represents. (I have an essay on this coming, make sure you subscribe)
A cold, harsh dose of reality. A lot of people with privilege and good luck have been holding on to the idea that their health and fortune is down to either “hard work” or “being spiritual”. Covid makes people vulnerable, and those who have not learned to accept that vulnerability, because they haven’t had to, because they’ve been sheltered by good luck and privilege, have essentially crumbled.
“Alternative medicine” does not work against Covid, and a lot of people have invested a lot of faith into it being able to cure just about anything. There are a lot of people out there with miraculous stories of healing from horrible things with the help of alternative therapies. Lissa Rankin has explored this in great detail, but the gist of it is: YES and NO. Yes, alternative medicine does work… sometimes. And also no, it doesn’t work every time. Lissa has been fighting disinformation from her platform, urging people to take Covid seriously, mask up, get vaccinated.
Rightwingers. If the governments of the world had kept mum, not said a word about the virus outside of “yeah, this is happening, whatever” like they did with AIDS, rightwingers would have probably taken it more seriously. It’s government action that they distrust, not what the government is doing per se. They have a long history of thinking all government intervention in their lives is suspect and devious, and you can thank some 70 years of anti-Communist propaganda for this.
Others. As in, other people. A lot of people do not want to make sacrifices for others. They can’t say this out loud, of course, but in their heart of hearts they just don’t want to make sacrifices for others. And so they make up stories about masks causing illness, vaccines being dangerous, Covid being an illusion. There’s a lot of rightwing people in this world, who have internalised selfishness to the very core of their being, and for these people that selfishness has paid off… in some ways.
What do Covid-denialists want?
What do anti-vaxxers and Covid-denialists want? We know what they are “against”, but not what they would be willing to fight “for”.
This is also another sign of projection: it is destructive not constructive.
So what do they want? For things to go back to “normal”? Take away the vaccines and Covid and go back to the good all days when the government/corporation could do anything to anyone with impunity?
I’ve been in the world of woo for some 10 years, and it’s only since the Covid pandemic that its spokespeople have started talking about governments, oppression, tyranny and the like. You don’t believe me? Find their youtube channels and check for their content before the pandemic. I double dog dare you.
What you’ll find is a sheer dismissal of anything on the “social” level as unimportant to one’s journey. Economic recession? You can overcome that with your mind. Earthquakes? You create your reality, if you think of disasters you will manifest disasters. Oppression based on class, race, you-name-it? How you respond determines your future.
On and on and on they kept dismissing “The World” in favour of “The Individual” in an exercise seemingly designed to re-enact Thatcher’s “There’s No Such Thing As Society”.
The woo’s obsession with self-centring, and their complete dismissal of the world of politics, was the main reason why I, political animal that I was, could not understand any of it when I first found it. I kept at it out of sheer desperation, but I had to invent a whole theory to make it make sense in my mind. I tried to teach it to people, but nobody was interested.
We’re all projecting now
It’s so easy to start projecting, especially when everyone around you is doing it.
Doubly especially when the culture will not deal with the real issues. Triply especially when the culture won’t even recognise the issues in the first place.
Things are getting so desperate, for such a large number of people, and none of us know how to talk about it, so we project.
On all sides you see this projection. The liberals run around for 4 years straight claiming that Trump was a Fascist, inflicting horrific, unspeakable things on the US public. Now it’s the other side, claiming that the discrimination towards the un-vaccinated is on par with the Holocaust1.
To be clear, some of the Covid measures do reek of control and tyranny. Nobody has asked for vaccine passports, for instance, but Governments are introducing them because, well, because they do whatever they want to do without consulting with the public.
It is utterly pointless for us to argue against each other on this. “Did you ask for vaccine passports?” “No, did you?” “No, of course not”. There. I’ve ended all debate.
They have not asked any of us, and none of us want them, but Governments tend towards greater control of the population and they don’t want to miss this opportunity.
My point isn’t that vaccine passports aren’t encroaching on our civil liberties. They obviously are. My point is that the way people are reacting is suspicious. And this is important.
There are lot of ways the government is encroaching on our civil liberties, and nothing they have done in the last few decades has provoked a response like we are seeing around vaccination.
Overreacting to the “wrong” thing can be just as dangerous as not reacting to the “right” thing.
Overreacting to something that is not tyranny can be just as dangerous as not reacting at all to real tyranny.
The reason is: when we’re projecting; we are not focusing on the true reason for our problems. And this way we are open to being manipulated.
Anyone can come along and blame our problems on something and if people find it convenient as a proxy for what really bothers them, then they will buy it.
And then our problems won’t get solved. Ever.
How do we stop projecting?
I have hinted at various alternatives to projection.
One is to look for uniformly applied standards. Where are they not applying their argument to?
Another is to ask whether their arguments are destructive or constructive. Are they against something to be in favour of something else, or are they just against something?
Another I did not mention before is to look for power differences. People find it easy to project their problems on to those below them on the social hierarchy. If you’ve ever worked in hospitality or retail you know the classic case of customers dissatisfied with their lives getting irrationally angry over something meaningless.
But ultimately the cure for projection is… working with our stuff. Working with the real thing we’re upset about. Dealing with our difficult emotions. Actually opening our eyes and looking at what is going on, without running away.
This takes courage, and self-compassion. There’s no use in beating ourselves up for projecting. The only way to stop it so ask ourselves hard questions about what is really going on.
Only then we will be able to see the world as it truly is. And maybe we will stand a chance in Hell of changing it.
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You know, the truth would be a lot easier to uncover if we all stopped reaching for Fascist Germany every chance we get, as if this was the only narrative or metaphor ever conceived.
Even for Fascism standards’ the Holocaust “model” is less than ideal. People tend to fixate on the genocide of Jewish people, and completely miss the wider picture, you know, the picture Hitler himself described in his book, the man wrote a whole book on it so that everyone would understand what he meant, that picture.
The important thing is this: if you want to understand Fascism, look literally anywhere else. Franco’s Spain is good. Mussolini will do in a pinch. Look literally anywhere else, and the picture will become clear. Check out Gabriel Rockhill for more.