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Pathology of Religion “Religion Compulsive Disorder”
Posted: 29 March 2009 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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We don’t look a religion as a pathological disorder mainly because all of us have being born and educated in some sort of religious beliefs. If we think of religion as pathology, we have to accept that most of us are sick. We are used to see religion as a normal part of human life.

There are many different religious beliefs in this world and most of the time they are mutually exclusive and when we try to integrate or consolidate religious beliefs it is impossible to come to an agreement.

If we step out of ourselves and become an observer from out of space of our own life’s from the moment we are born and the way we were educated and educate our kids, specially paying attention to religion, we may begin to understand how a highly sophisticated conditioning (programming) mechanism of the human mind works in us.

Religion is in most cultures a vital part of society structure and in order rule and regulate his members they put them throughout conditioning/programming mechanism in which the rational process is completely ablated in the brain,when it comes to a religious beliefs, and his members learn to respond to a challenging of faith question with a dogma of faith or a personal revelation type of answer.

It begins at birth with some kind of ceremony in which the baby is offered to a God (baptism in Catholic’s), it is followed at home with family religious education, then by Sunday school which usually at least in catholic’s is followed with the first communion, then catholic school then another ceremony at the age of 11-12 confirmation in the faith, more catholic school, which may go into college and all along this Sunday services with a ceremony which re-enforces all believes and repeating dogmas of faith.

In concluding comments Dennis wrote

Dennis Campbell - 21 February 2009 01:11 AM

Religion is not to me “pathology,” although some indeed who’re theists are arguably highly problematic people, both to themselves and others. Exactly the same comment applies to “atheists,” or non-believers.  Dennis

I could argue IMO and from personal experience being a victim of our Catholic religion education that religion may be a pathological way of education that creates responses in people’s primitive brain as a re-entrance mechanism of response without processing throughout the rational brain, when any argument against “the faith” is in question.

Of course this is a theory, and could not be proven at this point, but it makes sense, and especially if I am speaking from personal experience of being a strong believer for more than 50 years of my life. But looking back at my life as a believer for many years I twisted science in any possible way I could to make it fit in what I believe to be the truth.

But this is the mechanism by which science try to explain obsessive compulsive disorder, in which the obsessive impulse will never reach the rational brain, and creates a re-entrance pathway in the primitive brain and become a compulsive disorder. Similarly I could argue that my responses as a believer were conditioned/programmed responses (pathological re-entrance pathway). 

If we accept this theory, religion may be pathology “Religion Compulsive Disorder” RCD and we may see why it is impossible to argue with logic with a pathological responder regardless of the religion they claim to be. We can not waist our time arguing with a believer we will obtain the same response over and over again. They are the only ones that can change their mind. We only provide the reason and logic that some day may reach into their rational brain.

Javier

[ Edited: 29 March 2009 09:40 PM by mammooth]
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Posted: 30 March 2009 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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‘‘Religion is not to me “pathology,” although some indeed who’re theists are arguably highly problematic people, both to themselves and others. Exactly the same comment applies to “atheists,” or non-believers.  Dennis’

I have a lot of respect for Dennis, but what shall we call the condition that allows people to accept and believe in the unbelievable? Scenarios that are totally unsubstantiated by evidence. We can call it delusion but then what is that? If one person is deluded he is called crazy, but if many people are deluded it is called a religion?

Sounds pathological to me.

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Posted: 30 March 2009 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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McCreason - 30 March 2009 11:39 AM

‘‘Religion is not to me “pathology,” although some indeed who’re theists are arguably highly problematic people, both to themselves and others. Exactly the same comment applies to “atheists,” or non-believers.  Dennis’

I have a lot of respect for Dennis, but what shall we call the condition that allows people to accept and believe in the unbelievable? Scenarios that are totally unsubstantiated by evidence. We can call it delusion but then what is that? If one person is deluded he is called crazy, but if many people are deluded it is called a religion?

Sounds pathological to me.

We are all subject to believe in things that are impossible.  It’s part of the way the brain operates.  Shermer wrote that the “belief engine” (I think that’s what he called it) was a spandral, part of our having the ability to think logically and rationally.  I think it is the other way round, our ability to think rationally is a part of our capacity to think magically (magical thinking has been around a lot longer).  So being subject to unwarranted belief isn’t a pathology, just something to learn to grow out of.

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Posted: 30 March 2009 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I suppose you are right burt as many people have learned to not ‘believe’ in the unbelievable and many people have gone the other way as well.

What is your opinion of the ‘meme’ idea?  A type of brain/mind virus so to speak.

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Posted: 30 March 2009 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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McCreason - 30 March 2009 11:39 AM

‘‘Religion is not to me “pathology,” although some indeed who’re theists are arguably highly problematic people, both to themselves and others. Exactly the same comment applies to “atheists,” or non-believers.  Dennis’

I have a lot of respect for Dennis, but what shall we call the condition that allows people to accept and believe in the unbelievable? Scenarios that are totally unsubstantiated by evidence. We can call it delusion but then what is that? If one person is deluded he is called crazy, but if many people are deluded it is called a religion?

Sounds pathological to me.

I agree McC. Maybe it wasn’t pathological when we didn’t know any better, like wife beating, genital mutilation, etc. But now, the only reason it’s not is because you and I aren’t authorized to officially designate it as such in the DSM IV.

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Posted: 30 March 2009 10:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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McCreason - 30 March 2009 06:18 PM

I suppose you are right burt as many people have learned to not ‘believe’ in the unbelievable and many people have gone the other way as well.

What is your opinion of the ‘meme’ idea?  A type of brain/mind virus so to speak.

I like some things about memes, but like most good ideas it seems to be easily trivialized into woo woo.  I think it can be a good “intuition pump” for thinking about.

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Posted: 31 March 2009 06:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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mammooth - 29 March 2009 07:54 PM

We don’t look a religion as a pathological disorder mainly because all of us have being born and educated in some sort of religious beliefs. If we think of religion as pathology, we have to accept that most of us are sick.

Some psychologists agree with you and others don’t, as the definition of pathology is context-dependent. Dennis happens to see religious adherence not as pathology, but that fact doesn’t make it a mentally healthy way of approaching the world.

Another way of looking at devout religious adherence is to assume that a person able to accept the magic and superstition inherent to religion is a bit unhinged. Their condition could be termed any number of ways. My preference is “delusional.” It becomes more and more pathological as it interferes with the happiness and prosperity of the individual and his/her family.

This guy may be on to something:
http://gnosticnotes.blogspot.com/2007/05/religion-in-service-of-pathology.html

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Posted: 31 March 2009 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Good link thanks. It still almost sounds viral. It can be irradicated but often is not. As in the world of biology some viruses last the lifetime of the host organism. Seems so with religion or faith as well. I can surely see where Dawkins came up with the meme idea. There are definitely similarities between diseased thought and diseased physiology.

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Posted: 01 April 2009 01:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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McCreason - 31 March 2009 12:08 PM

It still almost sounds viral. It can be eradicated but often is not. As in the world of biology some viruses last the lifetime of the host organism. Seems so with religion or faith as well. I can surely see where Dawkins came up with the meme idea. There are definitely similarities between diseased thought and diseased physiology.

Religion when it comes to teach religious dogmas sure works like a virus in our brain, it ablates or block the access of our thinking process into the rational brain, creating a re-entrance pathway in the primitive brain for the dogma, and the only argument that is left is “personal revelation” or “It’s God’s ways”, “you can not pretend to understand God” “If you surrender yourself to the Lord it all work out at the end” etc.

Religion to some extent follow the same patho-physiological mechanism described in OCD in our brain, and Dogmas of Faith are like a virus that ablates or block the normal electrophysiological pathways of our brain creating a barrier in the primitive brain so you can not question the so called God’s ways.

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Posted: 01 April 2009 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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McCreason - 31 March 2009 12:08 PM

Good link thanks. It still almost sounds viral. It can be irradicated but often is not. As in the world of biology some viruses last the lifetime of the host organism. Seems so with religion or faith as well. I can surely see where Dawkins came up with the meme idea. There are definitely similarities between diseased thought and diseased physiology.

The link appeared relevant and seemed to arrive from reasonably cogent thoughts, but keep in mind that the author’s Ph.D. is unusual, to put it politely. Diploma mills, I’m guessing, still thrive for those willing to pay a few bucks to make their charlatan plans a little more lucrative.

I agree with what you say, McCreason, as long as you’re being metaphorical. Highly metaphorical. I remember Teuchter once expressing strong disagreement with certain uses of the word meme, and I get his point. (I hope he’s on a big case these days and will soon return to his regular occupation on this forum.)

mammooth - 01 April 2009 05:29 AM

Religion when it comes to teach religious dogmas sure works like a virus in our brain, it ablates or block the access of our thinking process into the rational brain, creating a re-entrance pathway in the primitive brain for the dogma, and the only argument that is left is “personal revelation” or “It’s God’s ways”, “you can not pretend to understand God” “If you surrender yourself to the Lord it all work out at the end” etc.

Religion to some extent follow the same patho-physiological mechanism described in OCD in our brain, and Dogmas of Faith are like a virus that ablates or block the normal electrophysiological pathways of our brain creating a barrier in the primitive brain so you can not question the so called God’s ways.

Mammooth, it all seems interconnected to me, as well. But again, I think we need to be clear in our words about such matters and always emphasize the metaphorical nature of this sort of thinking.

Many fields within psychology remain little more than guesswork. I’ve got some old reference books that I occasionally enjoy looking at for some reason, and last night I picked up one called, Encyclopedia of Aberrations, published in 1953. The authors go confidently into detail about how autism, epilepsy and other neurological disorders have etiologies in behavior, upbringing and personality.

It’s easy to assume that confidence is in order when discussing heretofore under-defined and yet-to-be-sufficiently-researched matters. Much in psychology still falls into that category (defying differential diagnosis), and the guesswork nature of it all can’t be under-emphasized, in my opinion.

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Posted: 01 April 2009 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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unknown zone - 01 April 2009 07:28 PM

I’ve got some old reference books that I occasionally enjoy looking at for some reason, and last night I picked up one called, Encyclopedia of Aberrations, published in 1953. The authors go confidently into detail about how autism, epilepsy and other neurological disorders have etiologies in behavior, upbringing and personality.

Of course, the only reliable reference book in this area is Kraft Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis; nevertheless, the “bible” of psychiatric disorders is the APA’s DSM, which purports to list and define every mental disorder.

It is a very political document; recently, pharma is lobbying to include more and more disorders like compulsive shopping, because the more disorders recognized in the DSM, the more symptoms insurance companies will have to pay to pharmaceutically treat.

When I started having to read the thing, being gay was a disorder, and smoking was fine.  Now, being gay is fine, but smoking is a disorder.  So, as I say, the thing is more political than scientific, but insurance companies and courts regard it as authoritative.

Which brings me to religion.

I would think the truly religious would be considered suffering from a delusional disorder.  But, in order not to piss off the Catholic church and fundies, the APA voted that if enough people subscribe to an irrational and non-provable belief, it isn’t a delusion.

Problem solved.
Christians sane.

[ Edited: 01 April 2009 04:47 PM by sam harris is a neocon idiot]
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Posted: 19 April 2009 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Primitive brain or right brain it is the instinctive brain that has never had a somatic or functional development, that is what harvest religious beliefs. This brain still dominates over the left or reasoning brain. As Rita Levi-Montalcini said “all the great tragedies in the word are usually because the primitive brain dominates over the reason” “The totalitarian regimens of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini convinced the people with these instinctive-reasoning of the primitive brain and that has nothing to do with reasoning”.
There is no way to reason with a religious individual, calling religion a “Delusion” it sound more socially acceptable (it is psychological disorder) than calling it a pathology (then is a disease).
But in order to resolve a pathological disorder we need first to identify the pathophysiology pathways that generate this disorder. IMO religion utilizes the same convincing-programming techniques that any totalitarian regimen and this program is installed early in life in our belief system in the primitive brain creating barriers so the individual instinctively responds to challenges in the belief system without utilizing reason.

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/reportajes/pueda/pensar/quiero/ayuden/morir/dignidad/elpepusocdmg/20090419elpdmgrep_4/Tes

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Posted: 29 August 2009 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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so compulsive of a disorder it dates back in early Sumarian cuneiform like the epic of Gilgamesh..which by the way, bible thumpers dont like to admit that the story of a massive flood appears here strikingly similiar to Noah and other coincidences dates 1000 years before their bible..

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Posted: 02 September 2009 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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You’ll find many Old Testament stories are stolen from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

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Posted: 03 September 2009 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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mammooth - 19 April 2009 10:38 AM

Primitive brain or right brain it is the instinctive brain that has never had a somatic or functional development, that is what harvest religious beliefs. This brain still dominates over the left or reasoning brain. As Rita Levi-Montalcini said “all the great tragedies in the word are usually because the primitive brain dominates over the reason” “The totalitarian regimens of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini convinced the people with these instinctive-reasoning of the primitive brain and that has nothing to do with reasoning”.
There is no way to reason with a religious individual, calling religion a “Delusion” it sound more socially acceptable (it is psychological disorder) than calling it a pathology (then is a disease).
But in order to resolve a pathological disorder we need first to identify the pathophysiology pathways that generate this disorder. IMO religion utilizes the same convincing-programming techniques that any totalitarian regimen and this program is installed early in life in our belief system in the primitive brain creating barriers so the individual instinctively responds to challenges in the belief system without utilizing reason.

Sounds sensible to me. Between the study of the brain and genes, we will be able to come up with some causal or associated links for further classification. Since the majority of the population, but not everyone, is afflicted with this particular disease, and deconversion may occur stimulated solely by the thought process, it would indicate that psychological disorder may be appropriate. On the other hand, it could be stimulated by social and physiological factors both, the nature vs nurture argument, or be susceptible to chemical activities of the brain akin to depression or addiction. The problem is, is their a problem when there is functional normalcy for the majority of the population? Perhaps it could be seen, statistically speaking, that we are the ones considered to have the disorder of non-conformacy. Holy shit!

I prefer to view it as we are leading the way of evolutional advancement.    smirk

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Posted: 08 September 2009 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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fsalas79 - 29 August 2009 10:12 PM

so compulsive of a disorder it dates back in early Sumarian cuneiform like the epic of Gilgamesh..which by the way, bible thumpers dont like to admit that the story of a massive flood appears here strikingly similiar to Noah and other coincidences dates 1000 years before their bible..

Certainly, early Mesopotamia is considered by some theorists to be the seedbed of culture.  The flood story of the Epic of Gilgamesh has elements that are common with the Biblical flood story but there are important differences which should also be noted. 

For example, the flood is said to be caused by the caprice of the chief female diety (Ishtar) and it is blamed on the trickster Enlil.  But the biblical or Semetic story takes a different turn and sets the flood in the context of a divine response to the spread of violence among mankind—an effort to curtail this spread.  The link between violence and disorder in creation in the Semetic sacred texts moves in the opposite direction of the ancient near eastern parallels whose common denominator is the caprice of the gods.

What this means in terms of a response to an obsession with the action of the gods in human affairs is that the seed of Abraham is choosing to view the gods in a different manner than other ancient near eastern peoples.  The most important development, in my view, is the view that the gods are not peevish (as Ishtar).  Rather, they are looking for a functional as opposed to a dysfunctional society. 

This same idea carries over into the interpretation of offerings to the gods.  Whereas the anceint near eastern peoples emphasized sacrifice as the chief aspect in the care and feeding of the god, the seed of Abraham developed the idea of improved social relations as the appropriate response to the god while still retaining the idea of sacrifice.  But sacrifice is trumped by appropriate social relations.  Thus, the Semetic prophet Micah argues that god ‘desires mercy not sacrifice.’

What gives weight to this interpretation as an ancient or early semitic development as opposed to a later or Second Temple Era theory for development, in my opinion, is the fact that although the sacred texts of Israel contain this idea, the official cult diverges from this so that it is similar to the emphasis of the other peoples around Israel (sacrifice trumps social relations).  Groups of individuals who live at the periphery of society are the ones who criticize the nation for Israel’s failure to stick to the original plan but the bulk of society imitates their neighboring societies.

I also think that there is a key here for understanding how to get over our own human pathology in the present.  I have found that by learning to see problems in terms of how human beings get along as opposed to what the gods think, I am able to get over my own religious compulsions.  For instance, it is one thing to realize that certain habits (such as church attendance, giving to missions and building projects, etc.) are futile but it is quite another to be able to see these in a wider context as a basic human struggle to deal with the idea that when we die, we are will be replaced by other humans and gradually forgotten.  As Tracey’s Elk once put it:  “After the game, we all go back into the box.”

The Epic of Gilgamesh is primarily a story about Gilgamesh’s struggle with mortality.  The call of the king to maintain the cult at Uruk as a means to promoting his own memory in a city is the solution to this problem.  In contrast, the Semitic forefather, Abraham’s response to the anxiety is to promote his memory by having children and teaching them to act justly.  His question for the gods is ‘where is my heir?’ rather than ‘what city can I found to perpetuate my own memmory?’

The recent burial of Michael Jackson in a golden casket demonstrates that we are still struggling with being remembered in a big way.  The religious compulsion could then be viewed as a more general compulsion rooted in anxiety about mortality.  Like the religious we seek something bigger than ourselves to releive this anxiety.  Everything from wearing Calvin Klein jeans and the type of bottled water we drink to our career and family tree become means toward the end of identifying ourselves with a network that we can leave behind. 

I think that the early Semitic idea of fair dealing with our neighbor is freeing precisely because it keeps our eye on the ball:  We are human.  We die.  Other humans take our place in the world.

[ Edited: 08 September 2009 03:45 PM by John Brand]
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