Emerald City Syndrome

A prevalent mental disorder in the Age of Deflation

Bitcoin Graffiti
15 min readMay 4


… was a sunny afternoon in the spring of 1995. I was scribbling down solutions to basic subtractions in the tiny squares of my paper notebook when the school bell rang. The minute hand had hit 12, and it was 3 o'clock. All the kids stood up from their chairs and rushed for the classroom door to either go home or play outside. I grabbed my bag and coat and ran towards my little gold-sprayed bike that was parked in the shadows of the brown brick walls that surrounded the schoolyard. With my key, I quickly unlocked the metal chain, in order to race back home so as not to miss my favorite cartoons on tv. When I pedaled my bike around the corner I was suddenly struck in the face by the warm rays of the Sun and felt its energy warm my cheeks. I stopped my bike, closed my eyes, and basked for a moment in the yellow sphere’s splendor —when it hit me:

“One day, we’ll be able to tap into the Sun and have energy in abundance. We’ll run our computers, robots and machines to do our work. Technology will make our life cheaper, free up our time, and finally set us free.”

Maybe the arithmetic deductions were still running hot in my biocomputer after math class, but the insight remained clear as crystal: A global freedom event was going to happen within my lifetime, probably within the next three decades. I was sure of it and couldn’t wait for this marvelous future to arrive.
But with each spin around the star, I got older, and I slowly forgot about my childhood dream. Somehow my adult life had become a struggle, with expensive rent and food and all the signs of prices continuing to rise. It seemed like we were hurtling towards slavery instead of liberty. How could it be? Was my childhood fantasy so misplaced? Where was I wrong in my thinking? It didn’t make sense to me at all and I could find no explanation to what I was observing.
It took until the Corona Pandemic before I finally got my answer after I bought my first Bitcoin. Suddenly, I saw the light again. It immediately became apparent to me that for decades, I had been severely suffering from a modern mental disorder. Which, since the beginning of this millennium, had slowly infected my brain and distorted my perception of reality.

Emerald City Syndrome, or ECS in short, is a fairly new, common, but unknown cognitive disorder. This impairment has not yet been incorporated into the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for one very simple reason — 99% of Earthlings is unknowingly suffering from it, including the neurologists, psychologists and professors who make the manual.

The name ECS is derived from the mystical green city in the monetary fairytale ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It serves as the perfect metaphor to describe this illusive illness. And that is great news for understanding it, recognizing it and treating it. Because it’s highly likely you are suffering from ECS as well.

The Wonderful Emerald City

In the kids’ novel by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy quests for her way home after a cyclone rips her away from her ordinary farm life to a strange fairyland. The Wizard of Oz, who lives in Emerald City at the center of the land, is said to be able to help her back to Kansas. She travels on the yellow brick road in her silver shoes towards the mystical green city to seek an audience with the wizard.

The story is an allegory for the U.S. monetary struggles back in the late 19th century. The silver shoes and the yellow brick road are references to the old bimetallic standard and the Free Silver Movement. The Emerald City symbolizes the heart of the land, Washington D.C., that issues paper dollars by decree — fiat money.

When Dorothy arrives at the gates of the walled city, a guard mandates her to wear a pair of green glasses before entering. She asks why she needs to put them on. The guard replies,

“Because if you did not wear spectacles the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you. Even those who live in the City must wear spectacles night and day. They are all locked on, for Oz so ordered it when the City was first built, and I have the only key that will unlock them.”

Next, the guard takes a large gold key off a peg and opens the gates. Another hint that we are departing from the yellow brick road, as the Greenbacks are unpegged to gold, and Dorothy enters the fiat capital by decree wearing green glasses.

“The window panes were of green glass; even the sky above the City had a green tint, and the rays of the sun were green. There were many people — men, women, and children — walking about, and these were all dressed in green clothes and had greenish skins. … Many shops stood in the street, and Dorothy saw that everything in them was green. Green candy and green pop corn were offered for sale, as well as green shoes, green hats, and green clothes of all sorts. At one place a man was selling green lemonade, and when the children bought it Dorothy could see that they paid for it with green pennies.”

During this first meeting Dorothy doesn’t interact with the real wizard of Oz but to one of his illusions, a giant head. He promises her a way back to Kansas if she liquidates the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy returns to Emerald City after killing the witch to redeem the wizard’s promise, only to discover that the Terrible Wizard of Oz does not exist. He is but a little man operating from behind the curtains.

After Oz is exposed as a humbug, he explains his behavior and the mandatory wearing of the green spectacles,

“Just to amuse myself, and keep the good people busy, I ordered them to build this City, and my Palace; and they did it all willingly and well. Then I thought, as the country was so green and beautiful, I would call it the Emerald City; and to make the name fit better I put green spectacles on all the people, so that everything they saw was green.”

“But isn’t everything here green?” asked Dorothy.

“No more than in any other city,” replied Oz; “But when you wear green spectacles, why of course everything you see looks green to you. … But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City, and it certainly is a beautiful place, abounding in jewels and precious metals, and every good thing that is needed to make one happy. I have been good to the people, and they like me; but ever since this Palace was built, I have shut myself up and would not see any of them.

The Wizard of Oz is the creator of the game. He is a bad magician, for his magic doesn't work and his tricks are mere illusions and make belief. In reality, the Emerald City is not green but only appears as such through the green glasses one is forced to wear—read: the money one is forced to use. Fiat dollars are worthless paper in contrast to the naturally scarce precious metals. But as long as everybody believes in the authority saying it has value, the illusion continues.

Meanwhile, the dollar savers suffer as fiat money is unable to maintain its value and continues to depreciate through the creation of new units, leading to the perception of increased prices. Unfortunately, the people don’t know the cause of their suffering. They were born with their green glasses on, raised in a fiat system, and hence cannot see the situation for what it is.

This is the Emerald City Syndrome…
And you don’t know you have it!

“I think you are a very bad man,” said Dorothy.

“Oh, no, my dear; I’m really a very good man, but I’m a very bad Wizard, I must admit.”


Section II, Neurocognitive Disorders,
Subcategory 5b, Neuromonetary Disorders (NMDs)

II.5.b.i. Emerald City Syndrome (ECS)

(April 2, 2032 — Washington D.C.)

In this latest update since 2013 from the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the committee now presents our latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Given the explosion of reported neuromonetary cases over the last months it was imperative to provide psychiatrists worldwide with descriptions, diagnostic tools and treatment details incorporated into a novel disorder subcategory.

Over the last decade the prevalence of neuromonetary disorders (NMD) have exponentially increased since 2025. There was no consensus found for determining when the first cases were reported and obviously in hindsight misdiagnosed. Though we can agree on cases starting to pick up in the early 2020s, psychobiological historic studies (Toxopeus et al., 2027) claim we have to go back to at least 1971 to identify the very first patients suffering mild forms of NMD. We also want to stipulate that it has become apparent that the condition is not only prevalent in the United States, though it contains its largest cohort of cases, but exists as a widespread psychological phenomenon across the globe.

In retrospect, it is now easy to make proper diagnoses with regard to its most dominant form Emerald City Syndrome (ECS). But the Association would like to elaborate that most of the members on the committee have since been post-diagnosed with the neuromonetary disorder themselves. This has resulted in long term denial of ECS existence, inhibited proper diagnostic education, and led to 99.99% misclassifications of billions of patients worldwide.

In defence to allegations made at the address of the APA about the delayed publishing of DSM-6.1, the committee can solely expound that ECS overlapped with known mental disorders formerly described in DSM-5 which made the impairment difficult to discern and recognize. Though it took some time, our work has not been in vain and has cleared up multiple anomalies in previous editions. We can now proudly announce that the miscellaneous Caffeine Use Disorder (CUD), gambling disorder, and a wide range of depressive, anxiety and obsessive compulsive aberrancies can now be fully explained under the ECS denominator.

Lastly, we want to give special thanks to our colleagues in San Salvador, Bhutan and Malta hyperbitcoinized city states which provided the APA with ECS-devoid control groups for our double blind studies in order to establish a baseline.

Technological Hyperdeflation

Now what is causing Emerald City Syndrome? There are two components contributing to this widespread psychological effect that creates the green veil through which we perceive the world.

  1. Exponential deflation through technology.
  2. Immersion within the current inflationary monetary system that offsets the gains from 1.

Technology is deflationary — it drives down prices. This is the very nature of tech. The use of tools, computers, machines, any form of doing work more efficiently drives down the cost of production. A horse and plow is more efficient to furrow the fields than a man with only his bare hands. A motorized tractor further eases the job of farming. And an autonomous plowing vehicle is the ultimate goal, letting the farmer pursue self-actualization whilst the robot does all the work.

Over time, this automation increases the supply of all goods and services, hence lowering their costs. Technological advances are being developed and adopted currently at the fastest rate in human history, these exponential gains are causing prices to plummet across the board.

But somehow these benefits have not accrued to us. Where in the 1950s a single man could purchase a house and maintain a family, today both partners need to work to stay financially afloat. If you believe the first premise regarding automation to be true, then the next logical question is:

If technology was supposed to make my life easier, then why am I not seeing it?

It’s because you are immersed in the fiat paradigm. Not only do you use paper dollars as your sole unit of account to measure value, but you work for a commodity that has been depreciating exponentially. You’ve worn green glasses on your eyes so long that you think this is Emerald City. You’re unaware of these tainted shades covering your eyes. It’s a prison for your mind and makes you interpret the world becoming more expensive.

“All of us have been living in an inflationary system all our lives. We can’t see it. We don’t question these things, for they have always been true.”

— Jeff Booth

In his book the Price of Tomorrow — Why Deflation is Key to an Abundant Future—technology entrepreneur Jeff Booth explains how governments around the world are trying to stop the deflation from happening by printing more and more money into the economy. Deflation makes the dollar stronger, resulting in more purchasing power, but it also makes loans harder to repay. And because we live in a debt based system, deflation is catastrophic to loans as it makes them unaffordable, pushing the whole banking system into a debt spiral. Hence, Central Banks inflate the money supply, offsetting technological deflation, and cancelling all the gains that would have otherwise accrued to society. Inflation benefits holders of scarce assets (real estate, stocks) and widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

“So, in late 2008, something extraordinary happens. Instead of allowing the system to fail and rebuild some anew. Governments around the world, save the same people that created the crisis in the first place…effectively guaranteeing their wins and socializing their losses. The “real” value of your cash is destroyed as new money is created out of thin air and the system is bailed out. Bets that should have gone to zero are made whole, and a staggering amount of new debt is created to pretend the economic system still works.”

“You think to yourself — this is crazy. A currency only holds value because of the deemed trust we have in it. Beyond that, it is just a piece of paper with faces and numbers on it. Trust is just an agreed upon exchange of value and that government will keep its promises. That trust is compromised if governments do not keep their promises — even if they pretend to by changing the value of the paper the promise is written on.”

“You wonder how more debt could be used to solve a problem that was created by debt in the first place. Wouldn’t that delay the inevitable and make the whole system even more fragile?”

“But…it works, and most people forget. Everyone once again believes in the fairy tale.”

“Until a virus starts spreading across the globe.”

— Excerpt from ‘An Economic Fairytale’, by Jeff Booth

In 2008 and 2020 the green glasses almost came off. But the Wizard of Oz reinflated his hot air balloon and left the scene once again. He maintained the illusion, and left Dorothy behind to save herself.

Self-Diagnosis & Medication

The APA won’t come out with DSM-6 until 2032, so you’re on your own. And don’t wait for the authorities to tell you the system is insolvent, because if they would, the whole financial system would collapse in that very instant.

So self-diagnosing is imperative. If you fail to diagnose yourself with Emerald City Syndrome, the chances are that by 2032 you will be poor and have transformed into an enraged Neo-Luddite hellbent on stopping human progress by destroying technology to save obsolete jobs. In this scenario, Artificial Intelligence will become your enemy and the robot shall become your Terminator. Not to kill you, but to take your job. And in an expensive world you can’t afford to go without one — with the best regards from JPow.

“From the perspective of monetary policy, our focus remains squarely on our dual mandate: to promote maximum employment and stable prices for the American people.“

— Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve

The goal is not to be employed or to have stable prices — the goal is to work less with an increased standard of living. Technology is achieving this naturally. You don’t need to be employed if prices are allowed to come down. Who wants to be maximally employed? Who wants stable prices? Nobody. We want less work with lower prices.

But the man behind the curtain wants you to wear his green glasses. On the dollar standard you’ll need to be maximally employed and in the most positive scenario prices remain stable. In the most likely scenario they’ll continue to rise.

If you believe housing prices go up forever—you have ECS.
If you believe life is getting more expensive — it’s ECS!
If you believe money is not a monopoly — ECS.

Once you have accepted your diagnosis and the green veil has been lifted from your eyes, then welcome … to the real world. Recognizing you’ve been suffering from a mental disorder might be a painful awakening, but it’s a great leap unto the healing path. Your eyes may hurt from the clarity at which you now perceive. Your legs may feel wobbly as you need to learn how to walk again. You are doing better than before. But being aware is not enough, one needs strong medicine.

Your Personalized Prescription

In order to heal the ECS-patient I prescribe only the purest of the pure. A medicine so rare only 21 million whole tablets exist on Earth. There will never be more. One whole tablet might be overdoing it, but there is enough for everyone as I can easily divide the tablets into smaller pieces. But like all diseases, the longer you wait, the sicker you’ll become and the more medicine you need to heal yourself later.

Name Prescriber: Satoshi Nakamoto
Name ECS-Patient: ________________ (Your name here)
Rx: Bitcoin ($100s worth) (Take a stronger dose if you are feeling extra sick)
Sig: Any Bitcoin dispenser, once a month
Rf: Continue this treatment for at least 4 years (or 210,000 blocks)

P.S. Please read the detailed instructions before self-administering.

Final Diagnostic

So in the end my childhood insight wasn’t misplaced. I was right on the ball that spring day in 1995 when I stopped my golden bike outside the schoolyard to bask in the sun. I understood nature, but didn’t grok fiat money. I was born, like everyone else, with my green glasses on.

The green glasses have come off now. But I walk in a world where everybody thinks this is still Emerald City where the people live under the rules and control of the Wizard of Oz. ECS is so pervasive that I feel like a heliocentrist in a 15th century Catholic world or like Neo who plugs back into the Matrix.

“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”

— Neo

ECS is a clarifying term for this psychological phenomenon, and serves as a self-diagnosis tool and label to psychologize precoiners. How many times have Bitcoiners tried to explain money to their fiat friends and failed miserably? Emerald City Syndrome is tenacious, it runs like a program in the minds of the people, and it’s hard to switch off. For fiat prices are everywhere, and we never learned to count value otherwise. Fiat is the greatest trick on the mind — ECS is very real.

In my most daring fantasies the freedom event has already arrived. The amount of technological progress we have experienced over the last three decades is staggering, and the advances keep coming at us at a faster pace. By all means, we should already have been working 10 hour work weeks by now whilst enjoying a higher standard of living. But in order to relish these gains, we will have to drop our old way of looking at the world and put on the orange glasses.

After Dorothy exposed the Wizard of Oz in Emerald City, she finally understood that nobody but she could bring herself back home. Thankfully, she was accompanied by a brain, a heart, and courage. And with those friends she was able to make it back home.

Resources and Literature

  1. FOMC Press Conference (May 3, 2023)
  2. Pre-Memetic Trade and Finance, Citadel 21, vol. 20 (2023)
  3. Emerald City Redux, Citadel 21, vol. 18 (2022)
  4. The Fed’s Losing the Battle with Deflation, RealVision (2020)
  5. An Economic Fairytale, Jeff Booth (2020)
  6. The Price of Tomorrow, Jeff Booth (2020)
  7. The Wizard of Oz as a Monetary Allegory, Hugh Rockoff (1990)
  8. The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum (1900)



Bitcoin Graffiti

Writing about Bitcoin, Mythology, and Healing. Sometimes a short story.