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Forums > Social Discussion > Religion: A mental illness?

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

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Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Written by: Simian
ah, israel. Just another justification for my thesis that religious belief should be treated the same as any other mental illness. But that's another discussion entirely...



Well, this is another discussion entirely. smile

Thoughts?

I'm inclined to agree.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Some posts on this thread are somewhat ignorant, some a bit offensive, some contain little and some a large understanding of what religion is and what not, what it can do for mankind and what it certainly cannot do... confused

I don't believe - I know that religion is not a mental illness... and I am quite sure (see the difference between the words) that it's not a "human" invention as I do have the feeling that animals too have a religious belief of some kind....

If you study theology a little more closer, it all makes some sense.

It makes sense why there is a belief and why there is a religion - beyond the myths and even lies told by priests and gurus and churches... We have to make a difference between philosophy, religion and church... there's a destinct edge between the former and the latter... and a reason why there is an edge... smile

You belive or not - your choice. Don't descriminate people who do. I'm not talking about extremists here - even though they too have a statement and a point (well hidden by media coverage and mainstream propaganda)... another discussion...

I was raised without getting baptised... at age 4 I was taking my neighbour at his hand and asked him: "So? What do you think about god?" Later I had to attend "religion" (catholic) at school. I liked the stories of the bible, soon it got obvious what the true meaning behind those stories really was... etc pp.

Anyways: Religion has a purpose and this has to be discovered individually. But this again is a totally different discussion...

ubbangel


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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

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Posted:So here's an interesting twist to the discussion.

Some cultural anthropologists have theorized that the development of the emotion of "awe" was central to the development of intelligence in the human species. That this emotion is intermixed with curiosity and that a mixture of awe and curiosity leads to discovery. As humans began to follow this path of behavior, we were locked on an evolutionary one-way path where we lost physical attributes (hair, big teeth) and gained mental attributes (toolmaking, fire) and those with better brains were better able to survive. Brains that tended to discovery did better than brains that tended not to.

It's all very hand-waving and I could just as well argue that brains that tend to discovery also tend to get killed by bad discoveries, but for the sake of arguement let's not go there.

So if awe, which I think we can all agree could eventually lead to religion, is an evolutionary trait, then it's genetic in some way.

Now I've known people raised in very religious families who have had fallings-out with their religions. I've also known people raised in non-religious families who have wound up deeply involved in religion.

Could a tendency to religion be genetic?

It's not entirely out of the question. Genes and religion have probably interacted before. Take Judaism. Now, Jews, especially of the Azhkenazi tribe (and I'm a member of this tribe) are known to harbor a number of genetic conditions (Tay-Sach's, for example). But also there seems to be a tendency for Azhkenazi Jews to have obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Orthodox (Chasidic) Azhkenazi Judaism can be one of the most exacting of religions. The Sephardic Jews (the other tribe) have nothing even close in their orthodoxy. Chasidic Jews can spend all day praying with one prayer followed ritualistically by another. Every single action, from using the bathroom to eating is carefully regulated by ritual (e.g.: you may read nothing except Torah and similar religious books unless you're on the toilet...then you may not read anything religious). It's almost inconcievably difficult to follow all of the rules and traditions without being raised in a Chasidic household from birth.

And yet a few Reformed and Conservative Jews do become Chasidic. These people almost invariably have OCD. I believe that the ritual is their outlet for their disease.

I wonder, then, if religiousness in general might not have a heritable component to it.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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janice
BRONZE Member since Jan 2006

janice

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Posted:the only connection i can see here is that religion can at times be used as a mental illess. ie* an extremist in anything can be an obsession which in a court of law can be held up. ie* " i heard gods word and i had to kill the sinners" has in the past been taken to court and lablled a mental illness. in an off hand manner religion was then called an illness. a little bit far fetched but nonetheless it has been used.


i am sorry i can't see religion an being any sort of genetic aspect. faith is something that is taught. religion itself is words from a text, faith is something all togther different. your theory is interesting but the one flaw is it is something that is taught not known at birth therfore it is not genetic. being raised in the said environment will teach you all these rituals that are important to that faith but again you are not born knowing them.

"It's almost inconcievably difficult to follow all of the rules and traditions without being raised in a Chasidic household from birth." < they were taught by being raised in such an environment.

religion is very geographical. hence depending where you live has a direct relation to what you are exposed to. moving around the world would give you more exposure.but again it is all a learned thing.


in goth we trust

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i8beefy2
GOLD Member since Mar 2003

i8beefy2

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Posted:Hmmm... In regards Doc Lightning's post, have you ever read the later books in the Orson Scott Card series Ender's Game? I think it was the third or fourth book in the series, but one of the central plot lines was a religious society where OCD was considered to be a sign of extreme connectedness to their religion (a worry of not being clean enough / washing ones hands until they bled). Its been many years now since I read it, but your post about genetic OCD and religion reminded me of it.

Consequently, in the book I believe that in the end a cure was brought from outside and desimated the religion...


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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

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Posted:I think Lightnings Chasidic/OCD example is very interesting, and, if the percentage of Jews in Chasidic communities who have OCD is high, that would indicate a possible connection.

Many aspects of religion in general seem to have elements that are associted with mental illness-

Self-harming: the flagillation of some christian sects, extreme Yogic/Ascetic practices

Delusions/hearing voices etc: messages from 'God', religious visions, shamanic journeys to other worlds

Inability to reason and blind acceptance of manifestly irrational arguments: for example, christians who believe everything the bible says because it is written in the Bible that the Bible is true, and is the word of God

Over the years I've done a lot of reading/research on aspects of spirituality and religion.

While I've often defended spirituality and religion here on HOP, from arguments I saw as flawed: I would not deny the close connection between mental illness and spirituality.

I do not see it as at all detrimental to spirituality or religion to accept that there is a connection.

IMO, the important thing where manifestations, which could be attributed to either mental illness or spirituality; is how the individual deals with them, and what effect they have on his/her life.

If their belief that their life is guided by something outside of them, leads them to view reality positively, treat others with respect and live a happy, productive life: then it is a good thing, and indicates a healthy spiritual/religious view.

If it leads to paranio, insecurity and misery, and leads them to condemn and attack others; then that is a bad thing, and could appropriatley be classed as mental illness.

The thing is, that exactly the same manifestations could lead different individuals to totally different paths.

The more I've come to terms with aspects of myself, that, in the past, lead to negative effects, and, which now, I use to positive ends; the more I come to see that I could be classed as mildly 'mentaly ill' OR (equally), spiritualy gifted.

And, for me, the distinuishing feature between these two conditions lies, not so much with the specifics of the manifectations (eg visions, feeling 'meaning' in apparently random events, feeling ones internal world to be as real as the external etc, etc), but with how one integrates them into ones life, and the effects (positive or negative) on that life.

Relating that to Lightnings example- OCD can often be a destructive 'illness' that leads to social ostracism and personal distress.

The same thing, in a community of similar individuals, can be geared towards religious ritual, and seen as, not only as being not a mental illness, but as a good attribute, for which you will be respected.

As so everyone is happy- the OCD sufferer can act out their compulsion and get social credit/respect for it.

The problem comes when said culture tries to enforce the same behaviour on all it's members, many of whom won't be OCD sufferers.

To me, recognition of the close relationship between 'mental illness' and spirituality, can potentially clear away the stigma on both sides- allowing those with said manifestations to enjoy their lives and be respected, and simultaneously, removing one of the prime 'bad' aspects of religion ie the compulsion to judge and convert others.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

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Posted:Written by: onewheeldave

Delusions/hearing voices etc: messages from 'God', religious visions, shamanic journeys to other worlds



Here's another interesting one. There are schizophrenics who hear messages from God/TV/Radio/the garbage man/etc.

And then there are Schizotypals who *sometimes* hear messages from...somewhere.

Schizophrenics often have lots of schizotypals in their family. Thus, although schizophrenia, which is likely a polygenic disorder, does not generally make one into a religious figure, schizotypalism probably does...

Which means that schizophrenia, or its genes, may have shaped some religions, sich as pentacostalism, etc.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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BansheeCat
BRONZE Member since Jul 2005

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Posted:Wow, very interested in your hypothesis Doc, and OWD's response is brilliant! I have often thought the lines cross between the two, and that relationship is not necessarily a negative thing-- but never have I thought it through in such a clear and organized manner. Impressive!

Capacity for awe as a genetic trait, I am very curious about this! ;-0


"God *was* my co-pilot, but then we crashed, and I had to eat him..."

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BansheeCat
BRONZE Member since Jul 2005

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Location: lost, Canada

Total posts: 1247
Posted:
offtopic Another thought, I have always wondered about the schizophrenics common belief that tin foil will block out said "voices". What did /do people in places without tinfoil do? Is it any reflective surface, could one hide underwater?

Not kidding, I am actually curious, I have never understood the deal with the tinfoil. I had a neighbor that wrapped every access to his apartment with it, and the bushes outside too, and lined his hats, bizarre behaviour.... It seems to come from no- where, yet all the
( unmedicated) schitzophrenics I have met ( granted only about ten, so small sample study) seem to arrive at this conclusion independantly of each other. Why? Or is this some kind of weird fluke?

Anyone know?

Also, why would some hear the voices as a posative thing, like God, and others something to block out or protect yourself from?

Doc, what is schitzotypalism?
Sorry if this is too much of a tangent from your original thoughts...


"God *was* my co-pilot, but then we crashed, and I had to eat him..."

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:@OWD: clap ditto

@Doc: Morphogenesis

more on morphogenesis

Someone wonders how people in the West end up in the madhouse - whilst the same people would get worshipped in India... confused shrug what to say?

In the west we tend to rationalise far too much - instead of listening to our inner echo and respond to that feeling. Where science fails to find "reasonable" explanations, where our concepts of the (material) world fail - we get scared... very scared...


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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Thanks Doc, I always wondered how all those laws got so complicated.



Anyhow, regardless of the reasons why some people feel the need to believe in god, there is certainly an association between religion and mental illness. While I'm not sure about OCD, there is well documented link between bipolar and religious mania. And I also know that from personal experience.



From the other side, the christian churches have dealt harshly with people suffering from mental illness.



There have been recent examples where people have been harmed during so-called exorcisms. While in the past, Saint Anthonys Fire (a form of hallucinatory food poisoning) resulted the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.







If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

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Posted:Ah, morphogenisis, a great example of people making stuff up to rationalise phenomena which they don't understand. How long till someone starts mentioning hundred monkeys? biggrin

People have far too much trouble just saying 'I don't know'. Although the examples given overleaf are more a testament to McDougall and Shelldrakes' sloppy experimental practice and the very human habit of clutching at straws to support a flimsy hypothesis than anything unknown. This is why the double-blind procedure is so important.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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FireTom


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Posted:Hundred Munkys, Hundred Munkys.. cool I saw them in the rainforest today! And they've been worshipping the holy banana biggrin weavesmiley Are those websites not "peered" enough for you, jeff? umm

I was trying to give a hint to Doc about the possibility that generations of practices actually could change something in the structure and form pre-dispositions... rolleyes

Maybe some people just do "know" (that they don't)? And who needs a straw if a whole boat is available? Really... confused

Some people tend to believe in "scientists" much more, forgetting that Columbus was called "mad" and proven wrong before he took off... shrug - I wish he hadn't... wink

Some people you just can't reach meditate


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

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Posted:Written by: FireTom

Are those websites not "peered" enough for you, jeff? umm



In this case they are just obviously stupid and exceptionally arrogant. The researcher notices blue tits drinking milk and makes the assumption that it's the only one and no blue tit anywhere ever has done that before. When he finds anouther blue tit drinking milk a hundred miles away, what does that mean? Is it just something that blue tits learn quite quickly naturally? Had blue tits been learning from one another for a long time before the researcher (who we have established is an idiot) noticed them. No of course not! The knowledge must have magicly been transmitted across the planet by a field that no-one has ever seen, detected or had any reason to expect. Please note use of sarcasm in the preceding passage.

Written by: firetom

Maybe some people just do "know" (that they don't)? And who needs a straw if a whole boat is available? Really... confused



A handful of dodgy anectdotes isn't a boat full of evidence, it's evidence of stupidity, guilibility and irrationality.

Written by: firetom

Some people tend to believe in "scientists" much more, forgetting that Columbus was called "mad" and proven wrong before he took off... shrug - I wish he hadn't... wink


a:It was common knoledge at the time that the world was round. That's how he was able to get funding
b:He was looking for India. Till the day he died he believed that the strange place he landed was an Indian island. Not the picture child for mental sanity was Columbus.

See how I've tied this whole thing back into the original topic. Quite proud of that, I am. cool


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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FireTom


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Posted:Sorry dude,

I can't take your attitude anymore shrug

*notifies mod*


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

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Posted:I was criticing Sheldrake and McDougall, not you. It's their hypothesis and I stand by my comments on it.

According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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FireTom


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Posted:offtopic



shrug I don't care anymore, jeff - I'm looking at this far too long now and you have attacked me personally with such attibutes before too...



Thanks for your hint about Columbus - he wasnt' called "mad" for the worlds shape, but size...



(Guns n' Roses "Civil war" lyrics deleted by firetom)

EDITED_BY: FireTom (1136859540)


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

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Posted:Post deleted by jeff(fake)

According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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FireTom


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Posted:just because you THINK you're right doesn't mean that you ARE...

shrug

EDITED_BY: FireTom (1136859439)


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FireTom


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Posted:PM on the way... this is offtopic

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

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Posted:Tom, thanks for moving this to PM. Everyone else, thank you for your patience.....

We now return you to your regularly scheduled discussion.

Schizophrenia is attached to religion as well. Many schizophrenics link the voices in their heads with either god (Joan of Arc) or Satan (I think Abe Lincoln's wife was one of the ones mentioned in the article I read on this).
This is not at all uncommon and is quite fascinating.


Pele
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Boo_Bunny
BRONZE Member since Mar 2005

Boo_Bunny

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Posted:Im very religious, but im not schizophrenic.
Noone i know is schizophrenic, but most are religious.


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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

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Posted:Perhaps it is an understandable link. When the sufferer has no apparent explaination for the voices then a religous answer may seem appropriate, espeacially given the impaired reason that schizophrenia can sometimes cause.

According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

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Posted:Written by: Boo_Bunny

Im very religious, but im not schizophrenic.
Noone i know is schizophrenic, but most are religious.



I'm glad you make that point.

Just to clarify my position on this- I'm totally aware that the majority of religious people are no more mentally ill than the majority of non-religious people.

But, where religious extremists (who condone murder in Gods name.or hold views that are manifectly illogical), IMO therer is a connection with mental illness.

And, where actual manifestations (visions, strong feelings of inner reality etc) are concerned, IMO, there is also a connection.

I'll mention again, that I do not consider such manifestations as inherently bad, indeed, handled well, they can benefit ones life.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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FireTom


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Posted:Wow - my mind was just taking off by itself and a voice came to me *Tom - eat ginger candies, eat ginger candies* I don't like ginger candies but I felt this strong urge... so it must have been a deity that told me... wink Oh no, this is where "free will" kicks in , huh? But whether or not something exists, that can be called "god" and how "it would look like" is another, entirely different discussion...

Would we agree upon the point that religious rites or practices can establish a state where the subjects mind is detached from the body - much like in hyptnosis or under the condition of a mental illness?


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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dream
SILVER Member since Jul 2003

dream

currently mending
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Total posts: 493
Posted:We are all schizophrenic. A dynamic collective of influences, ideas and biology in a constant state of competition and flux.

And we are all religious. Atheism is just a recent offshoot of Christianity.

That atheists even contemplate all other religions as a form of ailmement is surely just a sign of their rampant narcissism allied with a complete lack of comprehension regarding the historical basis of their beliefs.


He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Nietzsche

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

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Posted:Written by: dream

We are all schizophrenic. A dynamic collective of influences, ideas and biology in a constant state of competition and flux.



I don't hear voices, nor am I prone to paranoia or suggestability. On the other hand I am a dynamic collective of influences, ideas and biology in a constant state of competition and flux. Perhaps you should take a moment to consider what schizophrenia is.

Written by: dream

And we are all religious. Atheism is just a recent offshoot of Christianity.



I wonder how all the Buddists out there feel being described as a recent offshoot of Cristianity. rolleyes

Written by: dream

That atheists even contemplate all other religions as a form of ailmement is surely just a sign of their rampant narcissism allied with a complete lack of comprehension regarding the historical basis of their beliefs.


There may be a little chip-in-your-shoulder there, dream wink . Had you bothered to check rather than rushing to conclusions about the atheist hordes you would have realised that the thread is about extreme fundementalist religion and it's conections with mental illness, rather than religion as a whole.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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dream
SILVER Member since Jul 2003

dream

currently mending
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Posted:Written by:
I don't hear voices, nor am I prone to paranoia or suggestability. On the other hand I am a dynamic collective of influences, ideas and biology in a constant state of competition and flux. Perhaps you should take a moment to consider what schizophrenia is.




Perhaps you should take some time to read the two volumes of capitalism and schizophrenia by Deleuze and Guattari. Or some research into Schizoanalysis.

Your admission above suggests that you probably realise that you probably already know there is no singualr 'I.' I'm guessing that you've done some work on Ego and Bundle theory. But the consequence, is that the competing fragments of your mental ecology compose a collective 'we' which is essentially what was traditionally menat by schizophrenia.

Written by:


Written by: dream
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


And we are all religious. Atheism is just a recent offshoot of Christianity.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I wonder how all the Buddists out there feel being described as a recent offshoot of Cristianity.





Strange... and there was me thinking that Buddists were Buddists.

While they may not believe in the Western conception of a grand creator, Buddist conepts such as reincarnation and enlightenment have little in common with 'scientific' Western Atheism (no god, but also no karma, no afterlife). Which as I stated is merely an ofshoot of Christianity.


Written by:
the thread is about extreme fundementalist religion and it's conections with mental illness, rather than religion as a whole.



and atheism as is practiced by many Westerners, is quite an exterme fundamentalist religion. Perhaps not as dangerous as others in some ways such as social control, but more so in others, such as respect for the biosphere.

Now willfully destroying your environment, while believing that scientific progress will save you and lead to human salvation. That in my book suggests some form of mental defficiency.

As does doing the same thing and believing that God will save you.


He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Nietzsche

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simian


simian

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Posted:Written by: jeff(fake)
the thread is about extreme fundementalist religion and it's conections with mental illness, rather than religion as a whole.



erm, no it isn't. The original quote linking religion to mental illness was mine. It relates to all faith based belief.

i think that having "Faith", eg: rejecting the idea that you gain knowledge of the world from the world does constitutes a mental illness.

Just because a delusion is shared by many, doesn't make them any less deluded.


"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

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jeff(fake)


jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
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Posted:Written by: dream

Strange... and there was me thinking that Buddists were Buddists.

While they may not believe in the Western conception of a grand creator, Buddist conepts such as reincarnation and enlightenment have little in common with 'scientific' Western Atheism (no god, but also no karma, no afterlife). Which as I stated is merely an ofshoot of Christianity.



Atheism means not believing in god. Buddists don't believe in god (or at least don't believe in worshiping him), ergo buddists are atheists. I think what you mean by western atheism is materialism, which can trace it's routes back to ancient Greece, long before Christianity and it probably existed in some form for millenia before then. It has been held and developed by a myriad of people world wide and based on the sole assumtion that the evidence of our senses is accurate.

Written by: jeff(fake)
the thread is about extreme fundementalist religion and it's conections with mental illness, rather than religion as a whole.
Written by: dream
and atheism as is practiced by many Westerners, is quite an exterme fundamentalist religion. Perhaps not as dangerous as others in some ways such as social control, but more so in others, such as respect for the biosphere.

Now willfully destroying your environment, while believing that scientific progress will save you and lead to human salvation. That in my book suggests some form of mental defficiency.

As does doing the same thing and believing that God will save you.





Willful destruction of the environment is in no way part of atheism (or any religion). It is the result of greed.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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Sethis
BRONZE Member since May 2005

Sethis

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Posted:Written by: dream


atheism as is practiced by many Westerners, is quite an exterme fundamentalist religion.







Written by: Dictionary.com


Fundamentalism: A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.







Funny, I was under the impression that Atheism was an aid to secularisation... Also I think the tally of intolerant people is much higher in other religions than in Atheism (which is not semantically a religion at all).



If you don't like the above definition, there is a second one:



Written by: Dictionary.com


n : the interpretation of every word in the sacred texts as literal truth







Care to give examples of Atheist "Sacred Texts"?



Written by: dream


Perhaps not as dangerous as others in some ways such as social control, but more so in others, such as respect for the biosphere.





umm You want to take a look at the census results for Europe, America and Russia (or what has passed for it at one time or another) for the last 200 years? I think you'll find that Christianity outweighs Atheism as the given religion for most of the time that Census' have been happening. So if you want to blame a religion for Environmental concerns, how about you look at the "Protestant Ethic" and its influence on Capitalism rather than Atheism, which has only been a recognised stance since about 70 years ago?



Edit: Buddhism. Note the "H". And also Jeff(fake) you're slightly off when you claim Buddhists are Atheists. There are branches of Buddhism that rely on faith in a Buddha for escaping re-incarnation. Check out "Pure Land Buddhism" if you want to know a bit more. smile

EDITED_BY: Sethis (1136914690)


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