Wireless Mind, Gullible Mind
By CHELLIS GLENDINNING
eco ne credite, Teuri,
quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.
Published in counterpunch
I have been contemplating the infamous Trojan Horse whose deus-ex-machina arrival at the edge of Troy stirred wonder among the gullible citizens, only to lure them to their demise.
I think such thoughts because another mighty horse has been steered into our midst, and like Trojans we have thrown open the gates to welcome it in.
I am referring to the onslaught of wireless technologies in the form of microwave towers, satellites showering the planet with radiation, Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) ports, Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) antennas -- plus all the gadgets they make possible: cordless phones, pagers, Blackberries, roving laptops, wireless water meters,, satellite TV and radio, in-flight internet. I am referring as well to the electromagnetic weapons, radiation-emitting stations, surveillance instruments, and crowd-control devices military and law enforcement deploy.
These sources of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, or radiofrequency, present a frightening specter. Some 3,000-plus medical, biological, and epidemiological studies have demonstrated links between exposure and deterioration of the blood-brain barrier that blocks viruses and bacteria, DNA damage, leukemia, nervous system disorders, immune deficiency, heart arrhythmias and coronaries, insomnia, anxiety, depression, memory loss, dizziness, deafness, brain tumors, etc.
And who is poised to slam the gates on this interloper? Not many.İSomehow a population with DDT, Love Canal, the Dalkon Shield Intrauterine Device, asbestos, Three Mile Island, and Agent Orange under its belt is mustering up the same old psychological defenses it used to not learn from those debacles.
I made "somehow" my business during the 1980s anti-nuclear movement; I studied the psyche's means of blotting out concern for weapons build-up. I went on to research the challenges endured by survivors of health-threatening technologies and the public's means of dismissing their suffering.
Truth is, we're not looking at a horse of a very different color today. Those same methods the psyche used to numb against the arms race and deny the existence of asbestos workers and DES daughters are here again.
Social philosopher Lewis Mumford's concept of "mad rationality" comes to mind. And renegade Freudian R.D. Laing's assertion that our "socially shared hallucinations, our collusive madness is what we call sanity." Too, psychoanalyst Eric Fromm's observation: "That millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make those people sane."
Let's consider repression: blanking out the facts and one's feelings about the facts.İAs psychologist Daniel Goleman puts it: "One forgets, then forgets one has forgotten." In this case the forgetting is made more likely because, like radiation from nuclear technologies, electromagnetic radiation is invisible. And indeed, upon hearing of links between radiofrequency and disease, some people sputter "Uh," spin around in a fog, and flee. Telecommunications corporations rely on repression when touting their happy-talk-keep-talkin' claims. "Satellite dishes receive radiation perfectly. There's no spillover," announce public-relations departments, while consumers stampede to their local satellite-TV outlets with nary a "Hello?"
Denial is like repression but carries an edge of active manipulation. When we repress, we erase the whole enchilada; when we deny, we rearrange the facts to make reality more palatable. Needless to say, the industry is the #1 perpetrator of this psychic defense. But the public isn't bad at it either. After four decades of bio-radiological research, Dr. Robert O. Becker gave his wrap-up in 2000: "I have no doubt in my mind that at the present time the greatest polluting element in the earth's environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields." Environmental scientist Dr. Neil Cherry predicts that every human will develop not one,İbut many cancers. A New Mexico journalist with autoimmune disease, whose husband contracted cancer after they installed satellite internet-TV, responded with: "It's just another thing in an already polluted world."
Selective attention is a sub-category of denial: letting in some facts but not others. Like the artist who insists that cell phones are dangerous, but cell towers are not. And the sign-maker who busted his ass to contribute banners to fight the T-Mobile tower a half mile from his home - and then installed WiFi in the house.
With personal disconnection we may admit a problem but proclaim that, because of this or that, it has no personal impact. Emblematic is a chat I had with a non-profit administrator whose neighborhood in San Francisco was one of the first WiFi "hot spots" in the U.S. His wife had developed strange health problems while living there -- which disappeared every summer when she went to Vermont. To him, though, yoga and vitamins would provide protection.
Rationalization is the mind's alibi. "But, but, but, but... ." But I need my iPhone to report I'm noshing an energy bar at ticketing/buckled in to seat 23A/waiting at baggage claim/hailing a cab/knocking on your front door. But here in Austin I can't get my favorite Boston radio station. But I have to check my email every ten minutes. But my girlfriends are on their phones six hours a day, I only use mine for four!
With projection we split the content of our minds into "Save" and "Delete"-- and throw what we deem unacceptable onto persons and objects outside ourselves. Come hell or high water, the telecommunications industry is muscling its $1-trillion way toward planetary dominion; in the face of such might, vulnerability before the toxic emissions demands an outlet, llest we face our fear of confrontation. One ready target is the already fallen: the electro-sensitive. Like atomic vets and Three Mile Island residents before them, they have become recipients of disdain and discrimination, called "crazy," given zero support, and pushed to the margins where, often homeless, they live in their cars.
Resignation is the roll-over-play-dead defense. "Ah well."
COULD UNEXPECTED LIBERATION OF THE MIND BE FAR BEHIND?
Meanwhile - as both Democrats and Republicans throw open the gates for the industry's plot to build a national "Smart Grid" that will leave no inch of North America unWiMAXed - Virgil's 2000-year-old warning becomes timely: "Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bringing gifts."
Ever since the U.S. Telecommunications Act of 1996 welcomed W.T.O-inspired deregulation and F.C.C.- bolstered corporate protections, a group of scientists and citizens has been active, working through such groups as EMR Network, EMR Policy Network, and Council on Wireless Technology Impacts. Microwave News has consistently provided information and updates.
At the same time illnesses that had been relatively unusual have become normal. Diabetes, asthma, testicular cancer, brain tumors, malignant melanoma, immune deficiency, chronic fatigue, childhood cancers, sleep dysfunction, autism, multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism, anxiety disorders, epilepsy, strokes, heart attacks.
As a mental health professional, I am well aware that the psyche has the wherewithal to grip its defenses 'til knuckle-white death. And yet, in my lifetime, I have also witnessed miraculous and unexpected liberations of the mind.
Chellis Glendinning, Ph.D., LPCC, is a psychotherapist. Her books include When Technology Wounds (1990) and the forthcoming Luddite.com: A Personal History of Technology. She is a descendant of Alexander Graham Bell.