The basic purpose of your immune system is to fight.
Fight pathogens, poisons, and things that you don’t want in your body.
To perform this key purpose it must differentiate between self and non-self. The self is safe. The non-self, ‘the other’, is a potential threat. It’s a complex system to say the least. The extended immune function even includes emotions such as disgust.
Expressing disgust is actually an unconscious physiological response. It creates nausea, sometimes vomiting, whilst also increasing disease fighting secretions in your mouth and upper respiratory tract. Your disgust sensitivity will even be heightened during immuno-compromised circumstances. Helpful during times of disease.
The physiology of disgust is also linked with many phobias and behaviour such as OCD. Unfortunately the disgust response includes a powerful psychological mechanism that increases our tendency to polarise between ‘us and them’, the ingroup versus the outgroup. Feelings of disgust lead to our strongest tendencies towards dehumanising arbitrary ‘outgroups’ of other people.
Historically our disgust response has even been manipulated by political leaders to usher in cruel totalitarian regimes. Get the population sufficiently disgusted and their unconscious ‘self versus non-self’ extended immune function will do the dirty work. Those fights over toilet paper, suddenly begin to make unnerving sense.
How do we override an unconscious physiological survival mechanism that plays on our worst inclinations?
Think back to the countless acts of nobility observed only two months ago, during the recent bushfires. We were going out of our way to help the vulnerable and those in need. By behaving in a prudent, proactive and kind manner we met with our better selves. The very best of our selves.
Be, like, that…
Be Prudent, be proactive, be kind, and may no one need ever become untouchable.