northanger (northanger) wrote,

slippery science

The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS

by Casper G. Schmidt

Since 1981 a noteworthy epidemic of an acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been described in the larger part of the First World, beginning with the United States of America, but now also found in Western Europe, South and Central Africa, Australia and a scattering of other pockets. It has been described mostly in a few select groups of people at greater risk: homosexual men, IV drug abusers, Haitians and Afticans, children of people in at-risk groups, and a small percentage of people who fit into none of these categories. At the time of the writing of this paper (July, 1984), the total number of US. cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is in excess of 5,200, of whom approximately 45 per cent have died.

Though small in scope, this epidemic is intensely cathected, as are all group-fantasy rituals. (This is in contrast with Alzheimer's disease, for example, which is unconnected to group-fantasy and kills 120,000 people per year.)

The most popular scientific theory about the etiology of AIDS is a viral hypothesis. According to this theory - which has been taken over by the lay press - AIDS is caused by a novel or mutated virus spread through the exchange of body fluids or through infected needles. A suitable candidate for this viral agent was discovered by French researchers who published their findings in May of 1983. There was very little media attention paid to this since the information was at that time out of sync with the dominant group-fantasy in the US. By the spring of 1984 American researchers announced identification of a similar retrovirus (HTLV-111), with a formal press conference and a great deal of media attention. Immediately after this the consensus of mainstream America was that AIDS had been "solved", with a blood test soon to be available (however uncertain its significance and shaky its interpretation), and with optimistic predictions of a vaccine soon to emerge from the laboratory.

There are, however, not one but two main classes of contagious illness in man: infectious diseases (spread by germs) and contagious forms of psychological disturbances (spread by suggestion). It is often forgotten that the reigning theories of the origins of infectious illness before Pasteur came along were those of humoral causation ("bad humors") and the theory of putrefaction. It took Pasteur years to prove and convince people of the germ theory of infection. Once that explanation became accepted, it became unshakable due to the inertia of the mind. To this day, every single disease entity for which no adequate explanation has been found has been ascribed to a viral origin (from schizophrenia down through autoimmune disorders).

I propose an alternative hypothesis for the etiology of AIDS, based on the second of these two mechanisms of contagion in man. This will posit a psychosocial origin of epidemic AIDS, which will lie on the cusp between immunology, pathology and psychology (the latter including the psychology of both individuals and groups). I will do so in twin papers meant to be read in tandem: this one, which will deal mostly with the group psychology, and a second paper for the medical press. In the medical paper, which is entitled, "The Pathogenesis of Epidemic AIDS", I account for the "biological" end of the disorder. It will trace the physiological effects of the group-psychological factors outlined in this paper on the individual patient, with the resultant epidemic of severe, mostly masked, reactive depression in the at-risk groups, of which the immune deficiency is one facet. It will outline the pathway and the mechanism by which the cellmediated immunity may be suppressed, and will provide an animal model for AIDS, as I discuss below.


In this paper I would like to present the evidence available to me in support of the hypothesis:

(a) that AIDS is a typical example of epidemic hysteria;

(b) that the epidemic has at its core an unconscious group delusion, which can be called the group-fantasy of scapegoating, according to which the poison feelings of the entire group are injected into containers who are called scapegoats and whose destruction rids the group of these bad feelings and insures its purification of guilt and sinfulless;

(c) that the same fantasy complex underlies this scapegoating ritual as was found for leprosy during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance;

(d) that the proximal and distal causes of the tensions giving rise to the epidemic can be found in the group psychology of the United States and (to a lesser extent, inasmuch as they follow the cultural lead of America) the West since World War II;

(e) that among the more important distal causes are the effects of the following drastic changes in cultural ethos: the development of nuclear arsenals with a potential for obliterating the world, and the changes this has forced in the psychology of warfare; the introduction of birth control and the invention of "recreational sex"; positive changes in the mental health of American women over the last 35 to 40 years, culminating in the women's liberation movement and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the US. Constitution; and the "liberation" of various disenfranchised groups such as blacks and homosexuals;

(f) that the proximal cause can be found in a vast, society-wide conservative swing (or neo-popuhst trend) in public opinion since 1977, cumininating in the Reagan years and the Central American conflict;

(g) that the combination of these unconscious group tensions brought about a subtle and sophisticated, but nevertheless sacrificial witch hunt, in which the participants were the Moral Majority and an assortment of other conservative groups (as hunters) and the nation's drug addicts and homosexuals (as hunted);

(h) that both of these subgroups are ardng-out group-sanctioned and group- delegated roles, which acting-out takes place mostly outside of awareness;

(i) that these attacks resulted in an epidemic of depression based mostly on shame;

(j) that the core sign of AIDS, the reclusion of cell-mediated immunity, is one of the typical vegetative signs of a severe depression (the mechanism of which will be the focus of the medical companion piece to this paper);

(k) that the epidemic represents, in the group's unconscious fantasies, an equivalent of war, during which the group keeps carefull count of the sacrifices;

(1) that most of the members of the group (the U.S.A.) are in a regression vis-a-vis this phenomenon, a trance state which is noticeable in a certain suspension of logic in the lay press and in the medical literature;

(m) that there are powerful forces at work to delay the solution of the puzzle posed by this epidemic and to obscure its group-fantasy origins, since the epidemic itself is a wished-for solution to pre-existing conflicts;

(n) and finally that, since the epidemic is psychogenic, the prediction can be made that the group will decide when it should be over (when they have "had enough"), a decision which will be broadcast to the group members through the media, so that after a suitable lag period (based on the time needed for the T-helper lymphocytes to be restored to previous levels of functioning) the epidemic will resolve and the incidence will descend from epidemic to endemic levels.

Links :: {AIDs dissident} {Serge Lang} {Robert Gallo} {David Baltimore} {Luc Montagnier} {HIV} {Retrovirus} {A Scientific Mystery, A Massive Cover-Up, and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo} {}

Tags: africa, aids, oankali
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