After being sequestered in our homes since late March, summer is upon us and some restrictions are being lifted: retail stores are opening; restaurants are offering outdoor seating; hair salons are accepting limited customers. How do we transition to what many are calling the “new normal?”
Peter A. Crist, M.D. president of the American College of Orgonomy (ACO), says, “I don’t particularly like the term ‘the new normal.’ My problem with it goes back to my experience with patients over the years. They’ve often asked, ‘Am I normal?’ and my response has been, ‘No — thank goodness you’re not normal. Just look at how messed up the ‘norm’ is!’”
He adds, “‘Normal’ doesn’t adequately distinguish between healthy and unhealthy in how we’re handling things. Instead of getting lost defining a new or old ‘normal,’ it’s better to talk about finding how to live with a new reality.
“Orgonomy, the science of man’s relationship with nature, is all about approaches to objectively observing reality. In medical orgone therapy we try to help people live with the emotional reality of who they are and the way the world is, as they find the most satisfying, healthy ways to handle their emotions. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no way to know for certain our future reality, just as many of the predictions at the beginning of the pandemic were way off the mark. Uncertainty always leads to anxiety, but orgonomy offers knowledge to help handle it that can show better ways to live given the actual realities of our circumstances. The key in our functional approach is to differentiate observations from conclusions — basing conclusions on facts as well as real observations derived from our senses rather than on assumptions or preconceptions.”
Dr. Crist says, “For example, you may plan to eat at a restaurant. What was once no big deal is now fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. When you enter, observe the distance between tables. If they look closer together than feels safe and you feel anxious, don’t just dismiss your anxiety. Trust your instincts. You can ask that the tables be further separated or simply order takeout. It’s also important to evaluate whether your anxiety is rational and directly related to the immediate reality or colored by internal, neurotic anxiety that has come to the surface. But no matter what, you have to find ways to go ahead and live while finding ways to calculate risks.”
Physical distancing and wearing masks are protocols in place now. Asked about masks, Dr. Crist notes, “The point of wearing a mask is to prevent infection by exchange of respiratory droplets carrying coronavirus. So, it’s crazy for people to wear masks when they’re not in direct contact with other people. Rather than thinking functionally about them, there’s been magical thinking that somehow a mask will protect you even in situations where there’s no risk of exposure. I’ve even seen people driving down the road wearing masks alone in their cars. The scientific information clearly shows that the risk of infection is greater when you are in close proximity to people in an enclosed space for extended periods of time. Outdoors there’s no rational reason to wear a mask in an area with few people who aren’t within six to ten feet of you.”
The ACO focuses on social as well as individual emotional health as manifested by its training programs in both medical and social orgonomy. Social problems have been on people’s minds since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve exploded in public awareness in the last few weeks since the killing of George Floyd. Dr. Crist notes, “The protests and social unrest that have degenerated into riots and looting at times, are undoubtedly fueled by pent up energy from centuries of unresolved frustration and rage further complicated by everyone being shut in the last few months. The situation is terribly complicated, but we can only find our way through it by differentiating rational political action from irrational, neurotic acting out of destructive impulses. Orgonomy is all about distinguishing healthy impulses from neurotic ones. That’s crucial in how people handle the COVID-19 pandemic; it’s crucial in how people handle injustice and political problems.”
— Hilary S. Kayle