The moral immune system

The Whole Person Blog: Week Two, Day Five, Part 1/2 - The moral immune system

Writings inspired by Dr. Mario Martinez: The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success

Interview with Dr. Mario Martinez

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

One pattern I've observed over the years is many of my clients, particularly high performers, end up getting sick on vacation. I've always found it ironic that they'd work so hard all year so they could go away and enjoy their earnings, only to spend half their time away in a hotel room. Previously, I thought their illness was unfortunate timing, but Dr. Mario Martinez's work has helped me see this situation quite differently.


"When I speak of morality, I am not referring to self-righteous rules invoked by those who are intolerant of others who don't meet their rigid standards of conduct. Instead, I am describing a moral code that differentiates between exalted and primitive emotions. Primitive emotions are founded in dysfunctional fear. If we embrace fear beyond its adaptive purpose, it grows into anger, hatred, jealousy, resentment, envy, greed, shame, and other primitive emotions that disconnect us from the best we have to offer. I define the exalted emotions as affects with a foundation in love. They include compassion, empathy, admiration, generosity, gratitude, magnanimity, and any other emotion that expresses our human dignity. The moral immune system is enhanced when we present it with emotions founded in love that confirm we are expressing nobleness. But if we choose a life of fear-based emotions, it can also confirm the worst in us. Either way, rather than judging or protecting us, it responds to the path we choose for our journey. This means we are born with the potential to both express the constituents of health and to trigger our propensity for illness."

Back to the hard-working professional, most struggle with work-life balance, lacking sleep, running up against tight deadlines, eating on the run, wearing many hats, battling critical thoughts, enduring painful emotions, defining themselves by their performance, and invariably taking the work personally. This is an environment full of stress and fear-based emotions, placing them in survival mode, demands greater than resources, conditioning their immune system to resist sickness because the work is essential. Then, they go away; their guard comes down as does their immune systems' resilience, and next thing you know, sick. Year after year, given there's little understanding of how they're participating in their illness, the pattern repeats.

"The immune system has morals, but the good news is that you coauthor the rules of engagement." Dr. Mario Martinez



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