The Business of Disease is perverse and while profitable for some, very costly to most.
It was about seven years ago that my eyes opened up to this issue, after I found myself perplexed by repeated requests for donations for breast cancer awareness. Every time I visited the supermarket during breast cancer awareness month, I was hassled for donations. Eventually, I wrote an article titled “The Marketing of Breast Cancer: The Pink Ribbon Agenda,” addressing my observations of this overdose of disease marketing. To my surprise, the article went viral; apparently I had voiced a long-held opinion.
The Importance Of Self-Health And Staying Informed
Ever since I lived in Evanston, Illinois, at age 17, I found myself drawn to a plant-based diet: taking herbs, fruits and vegetables, unprocessed foods, and enjoying natural methods of preparation. I went as far as preparing homemade baby food. For my community in the 1980s, I was on the fringe, living outside the framework of allopathic medicine. Although this was a period less degraded by GMO’s and preservative-ridden foods, I could almost feel the world of vaccines and overly-processed foods fast approaching. I educated myself on natural health tips and remedies, and I learned to listen to my body’s signals.
In the mid to late ‘90s, I was mentored by Dr. Sebi and Maa, profound herbalists/shamans and healers. I became a Holistic Health Coach and a Certified Lymphologist, and I taught at several holistic health and massage therapy schools. I discovered the healing connection between the brain and the body, with a bit of quantum physics mixed in. The observer effect is a focal point of quantum physics, explaining how our thoughts have incredible influence over our lives. What we focus on is influenced by the way that we perceive and interpret the world around us. Knowledge determines our interpretations, the choices we make, and our vulnerabilities. With this in mind, I felt encouraged to stay informed about various ways of maintaining my health and that of my family’s.
The Business Of Disease And The Language Of Symbols
It was clear to me that the current mainstream health model was deeply flawed. It was also evident that the public had become even more complacent, and was buying into this endemic marketing of fear and pharmaceuticals. The daunting question lingered: In what way are we as a society being imprinted by this “pink ribbon” code, and what did it all mean? How was this being interpreted by the brain and what were the long-term implications, not just for the individual but for our society as a whole?
In the article, “Language is a System of Communication that Uses Symbolism,” Thomas DeMichelle explains:
It is not just the symbols themselves, but how we use them that is symbolic, and while a given symbol can have deep semantic meaning on its own, it is context, subtext, and the pairing of symbols which allows us to express complex ideas and deep meaning … and, can lead to miscommunication.
Symbols are essentially a shortcut to conveying a magnitude of information and specific ideas or depiction. This affirms the power of marketing and the importance of creating the ideal image in delivering the encoded or implied message. There is a tremendous amount of research that examines the brain’s response to the influence of symbols, some of which can be found in DeMichele’s article, “Our Brains Can Process More than Language Can Express.” These studies confirm the impact of symbols like the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon, on the minds of the public, who are gradually being converted to patients and patrons. People’s minds are tied up in fear of disease, particularly cancer. The idea of “running for a cure” cleverly plants the idea that we are on the run from breast cancer. We are being chased and disarmed by fear. From a PR perspective this kind of manipulation is seen as “the art of persuasion” instead of manipulation. Its the techniques taught to sales staff and PR majors in college. To quote William Bernbach, founder of the international advertising agency DDB; “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.” This kind of persuasion is made easy when people remain misinformed and rely on self serving sources to keep them informed and to hold the public’s best interest at heart. It’s then open season on using persuasion and manipulation.
Business Of Disease: Marketing For Profit Or For Cure?
These days, fear-based pharmaceutical marketing is everywhere, conditioning the general public that they likely will become a statistic. Television and print ads promote fear and hypochondria. People become silently stressed as they attempt to escape cancer or other diseases. One has to wonder why so many of us are increasingly sick.
The NFL Breast Cancer Awareness Gear campaign is yet another promoter of this fear-based frenzy. The NFL receives whopping royalties from the merchandise sold for breast cancer awareness such as t-shirts, hats, hoodies, blankets and more. They only pass on eight percent of the actual sales of products to the ACS. This is not to say that they are not forthcoming with the funds, however a large percentage goes towards their merchandise cost. There are also other organizations promoting products such as a Barbie doll called the Pink Ribbon™ Barbie® Doll, breast cancer awareness toilet paper with pink ribbons all over it, and breast cancer awareness toothbrushes. Of course, some of these items only hit the shelves on Breast Cancer Awareness month. Although such merchandise promotes awareness of this pandemic, it has an exploitative flair as human emotions are affected. In the Journal of Marketing’s “Willingness to Pay for Cause-Related Marketing: The Impact of Donation Amount and Moderating Effects,” researchers indicate that this type of marketing “for a cause” plays on the emotions of the consumer. Consumers are not only willing to pay a higher price for such items, but they carry emotions associated with the cause, as well.
Pop Culture And Cancer
The 2015 Miss You Already movie, starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, categorized as a romantic comedy-drama, shows the social acceptance, conditioning, and normalizing of cancer. We see the main character experiencing the toxic effects of chemotherapy followed by her trip to a bar. The comedic aspect of the film is evidently there to lighten the idea of cancer along with the acceptance of potential death. Interestingly mixing cancer, chemotherapy, and alcohol could be a lethal cocktail. According to The National Cancer Institute excessive consumption over time can cause alcohol related cancers. This is evidently based on the toxicity level and this may vary from person to person. So once again, our culture focuses on the possibility of getting cancer and normalizing that possibility, rather than lifestyle and prevention.
The National Cancer Institute shared that”
In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will (would) be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease.
The most common cancers in 2016 were projected to be breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, bladder cancer, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, leukemia, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
[Editor’s Note: In 2013, the Global Burden Of Disease Study, a massive investigation on the propagation of chronic disease, revealed for the first time that up to 95 percent of the population is sick from a spectrum of chronic conditions, some apparent, some not, but overall progressing for the worst. This is unexampled in human history and has taken place only in the last 80 years.]
The Business Of Disease: Missing The Point
It is common knowledge that breast cancer warning signs are everywhere, especially in the media, causing women of all ages to live in fear. Breast cancer has undoubtedly become the boogieman, as daughters, mothers, grandmothers, friends, and lovers are warned to be ever-so-vigilant, checking in dark places for this impartial assailant. Celebrities, public figures, and television personalities are paraded before us on our television screens and billboards to remind us that, if it happened to them, it surely can happen to you. The slogans range from “Race for the Cure” to “I am a Survivor.”
Advertisers continue to promote mammograms, which through the process of flattening breasts like a sheet of paper can actually trigger tumors to spread. Still, women are encouraged to get mammograms every year, from the age of 40. Meanwhile, simple methods of keeping your breasts healthy, such as breast massages, go unacknowledged. Women diagnosed with breast cancer are increasingly removing healthy breasts for fear of developing cancer in the other breast while some are even removing their breast before diagnosis.
In our toxic era, most people’s bodies are constantly in fight-or-flight mode, aka survival mode. This is a physiological chemical state controlled by the limbic system. Many of us are therefore functioning in endless shock mode. Shock is charged by outside stimuli, such as the assault of breast cancer marketing. According to Harvard Health Publication, Harvard Health Medical School:
For two years in a row, the annual stress survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association has found that about 25 percent of Americans are experiencing high levels of stress … Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction. More preliminary research suggests that chronic stress may also contribute to obesity, both through direct mechanisms (causing people to eat more) or indirectly (decreasing sleep and exercise).
The sympathetic nervous system functions like a gas pedal in a car. It triggers the fight-or-flight response, providing the body with a burst of energy so that it can respond to perceived dangers. The parasympathetic nervous system acts like a brake. It promotes the ‘rest and digest’ response that calms the body down after the danger has passed.
Thus, the more we are blasted with fearful breast cancer messages, the more potential there is for women to develop many health conditions and breast cancer is no exception. Fear ignites stress!
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Bypassing Conditioning And Fear
It is vital for each one of us to become proactive health advocates and educate ourselves and our children to avid being a pawn for the business of disease. Make self health a priority, and shift out of the model of turning over responsibility of personal “health care” to these external systems.
In 2016, I produced the documentary The Business of Disease, a 74-minute documentary exploring the hypnosis of marketing, belief systems and the body’s ability to heal.
I felt it necessary to examine the environmental and social programs that shape our choices and experiences. It’s important that our attention is drawn to how and why we have become catalysts for the business of disease. Especially in this current political climate, it is vital that we direct our focus to better understand the inner technology of spirit, mind, and body. This paradigm demands that we put a stop to the poisoning of our bodies by GMO foods, clothing (fabric), big pharma, and Western Medicine’s bandaid approach to health. We must no longer solely rely on the system to ensure our health care but instead invest in self care. We owe it to ourselves to rise above the fear and discover ways to support a more balanced and holistic lifestyle. This is how we begin to change the world around us: we take back control!
Sonia Barrett is the Producer of the award winning documentary The Business of Disease, she is the Author of The Holographic Canvas: The Fusing of Mind and Matter, A Journey of Possibilities, Health An Inside Job an Outside Business and her latest book and 7 Day Program, Simple ways to step outside of your comfort zone; Letting go of an outdated life. To contact Sonia Barrett please visit The Real Sonia Barrett or The Business Of Disease.
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