No One Is Coming To Save You: The Connection Between MLM, Mental Health, and Selling Bullshit
Updated: Apr 29
Allow me to trace for you all the line between a change in psychiatry where schizophrenia was seen as a lack of will, and modern-day MLM companies, anti-vaxxers, and people you'd think would be cool because they love the outdoors but turn out to be libertarian af.
It starts middle of last century. Schizophrenic patients were not only seen as lacking willpower but lacking feeling, which is the justification doctors used to perform cruel surgeries on them. Veterans suffering from PTSD were also seen as lacking willpower. Eventually medical ethics stepped in and changed the field, but those beliefs stayed with doctors who were now officially deemed quacks. A big one was Thomas Szasz. That name pops up a lot because his ideas were used to start addiction treatment centers since addiction, too, was seen as a willpower issue.
Now keep in mind that these are doctors, so they’re pretty bright people. They start sharing their ideas and eventually those ideas make their way into these elite circles of people have these sort of parties where the first pyramid schemes were set up, but they were also where the Human Potential Movement began. We are now in the swinging 60s, baby.
A lot happens in between that is best expressed in this article written by an actual journalist titled "How a Weird Cult Therapy Inspired John Lennon to Make His Greatest Album" (and you thought you knew everything about the Beatles). Eventually we get to present day multi-level marketing companies such as Beach Body, Scentsy, Thirty-One, Plexus, Amway, and zillions more that also have deep connections to politicians. (If you don't think vitamins are political, then I highly recommend this book and to learn more about DSHEA.)
Ideas don’t die easily. After all, even the dumbest ideas appeal to somebody. So that’s why they take so long to die, because there will always be minds that are duped.
The more we work toward compassion, the more I hope we reach living a more ethical life for the mentally ill and the people who are duped by MLM companies. It’s not right to sell hopes and dreams to people who need to pay their bills, and it’s not right to sell products you haven’t thoroughly tested. But as long as there are people to be duped and others looking for an opportunity, the predator will pounce on the prey.
I often think about Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens where he says that Homo sapiens killed off the other humans and that’s why we don’t have the previous ones living alongside us. The modern human is the most violent human ever to exist. Even the kindest among us has murderer in their blood. That’s why we have to protect ourselves. Nobody’s going to save us. Altruism isn’t in our blood, it’s just something we’re lucky others give us. We are all on our own. And without knowledge, we’re going to drive ourselves into dangerous mentalities and belief systems.
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I’m not saying to quit your yoga studio but I am saying this is linked to why your instructor is a violent anti-masker who has “one love” tattooed on their inner arm. At first blush it seems hypocritical but in fact, that makes sense that that person doesn’t see the contraction.