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(The Psychology of Idealistic Diets--continued, Part D)

Symptoms of "failure to thrive"
on raw and/or vegetarian diets

All of this so far paints a disconcerting picture of the Natural Hygiene diet as one that works for some but not others. Why? Do you really feel people are so different that we can't agree on certain basic fundamentals of diet?

No. But I don't think it's too mysterious why some succeed and some fail on Hygienic or other vegetarian diets. In Part 1 and Part 2 here, we went to great lengths to detail what the so-called "original" or evolutionary diet of humanity was. What Hygienists miss is that the "basic fundamentals of diet" that you speak of comprise a wider variety of acceptable foodstuffs--including a certain percentage of foods such as cooked starches and lean animal game products--than have been considered "kosher" within Hygiene to this point in time. It is within the set of foodstuffs common to our evolutionary heritage that you find individual differences and the need to tailor things somewhat.

From this standpoint, then, the Hygienic diet is not so much different from the evolutionary diet as it is simply a restriction of it (as is true of all vegetarian diets). The foods we are eating are fine foods, but they are a subset of what the human body evolved on, and some individuals with the right kind of constitution or genetic plasticity--say, closer out toward the ends of the statistical "bell curve" of the average genetic make-up--can handle that restriction while others can't. And as we said previously, there are jots and tittles that experienced Hygienists may know how to implement in order to compensate to make the diet work for additional people. But they don't work for everyone.

So for the individuals who do not do well on a Hygienic diet--whether all-raw or the more mainstream 80% raw/20% cooked version--what are the symptoms they experience?

Well, I mentioned a few of them briefly above for the all-raw-fooders, but let's look at them in more depth, since they often also apply to the mainstreamers who are not doing so well, just to a lesser degree. Also, in most cases, whether all-raw or not, these individuals are more often total vegans, or close to it--no dairy or eggs gotten on the side occasionally. I want to mention here that I am well aware that the traditional Hygienic explanation for some of these symptoms would be that they are merely "detox" symptoms. Later I will go into just why I believe this idea is mistaken given the circumstances in which these long-term symptoms usually manifest.

A look at the most serious potential problems. First, here are a couple of severe problems we have seen. Keep in mind these are the most severe we have seen, and they are individual cases, but they are real possibilities.

Low-profile symptoms more commonly seen. The above are the most serious problems I can recall offhand without going back and digging through back issues of the M2M to perhaps find a few others. Less severe but more frequent than the above symptoms are the following:

How people get trapped by "pure" diets
that don't maintain long-term health

The "frog in slowly boiling water" syndrome: initial improvement followed by long-term decline. And the final thing I want to look at here is not really a specific symptom, but a long-term syndrome that takes time to manifest. We could call this the "better-for-awhile-at-first-followed-by-slow-decline" syndrome, or the "frog-in-slowly-boiling-water" syndrome. In fact, this is the usual long-term pattern within which the above problems occur.

It sounds like you are saying people can become more concerned with "being right" about Hygiene than in whether they are actually getting good results.

Basically, yes. That's a good way of putting it. The logic of Hygiene comes to captivate people and satisfies them as much as results do--perhaps more so if they aren't getting the results desired.

The dynamic, of course, is a little different for those who are getting good results. They, too, are plenty interested in being right about Hygiene, but since it has worked for them, they have a more solid sense of "certainty" about it, which of course they project to others. And because they have this greater sense of certainty, these individuals tend to become the repositories of traditional wisdom which is dispensed to the less fortunate. Those who are successful have a tendency to blame the other persons' behaviors ("you aren't following all the itty-bitty details right") or to doubt the failures are failures at all, seeing them rather as expressions of the truths of Hygiene at work when its principles are violated, proving once again its rightness.

Those who are successful are partners in reinforcing the tendency not to see failures as real failures. That's one of the biggest things holding all this in place: Those for whom Hygiene has worked cannot afford to consider failures as failures of Hygiene either, because just like everyone, they uphold the ideal that it must work for all, and so if it does not, it is also a threat to their own beliefs in spite of their success. This shared ideal is what binds the successes and failures together in common cause. The less successful imbibe the certainty of the more successful to maintain the faith.

This syndrome is of course not unique to Hygiene, but occurs with any idealistic system where there are both significant successes and failures. The important point to note here is that it shuts down the mind's openness to new interpretations. And if the mind cannot look at alternative explanations, what you will often see is that the favored paradigm gets pushed to extreme limits by those who are failing at it in order to try to reach some sort of resolution.

Such as?

Well, at this point, two things may happen, which are that:

Thus, what is essentially a simple, logical system of garbage-in/garbage-out ("toxemia is the basic cause of all disease") begins to increase in complexity. In the end, obsession and fanaticism may develop.


(How Absolute Dietary Purity Becomes a Fruitless "Grail Quest")

Return to beginning of interviews



GO TO PART 1 - Setting the Record Straight on Humanity's Prehistoric Diet and Ape Diets

GO TO PART 2 - Fire and Cooking in Human Evolution

GO TO PART 3 - The Psychology of Idealistic Diets / Successes & Failures of Vegetarian Diets

Back to Frank Talk by Long-Time Insiders

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