[quote author=“CanZen”]It’s a bit of a frightening thought to imagine that mental illness and religious belief might be two sides of the same psychosis.
As much as I want to agree, it’s just too easy. Mr Washington’s mania also has the benefit of keeping him off the bottle and keeping him from hitting his wife.
The MD from Duke seems to take the moderate approach that Sam vilifies:
“What is considered “acceptable irrationality”? That may depend on what part of the world one is in, and in what period of history. In non-Western cultures, both now and especially in the past, societies have been much more accepting of irrational behavior than we are in the United States today. Many of these cultures normalized aberrant behavior, and the mentally ill in some societies were highly respected and valued (eg, considered to be shamans or spiritual guides) for their ability to “see” into the spiritual world that others could not. This may have enabled such persons to function better because these views preserved their self-esteem and often increased their social support. This approach to the mentally ill likely conferred benefits that such persons in our society do not have. Instead, we label such persons as crazy, often isolate them in institutions, and then treat them with powerful drugs that have disabling side effects that interfere with their functioning and quality of life.”
Or elect him President.
On the other hand, I’ve yet to see a mentally ill person cure themselves…
The implication is that Mr Washington’s religious experience had a real benefit. If not medical, then it was certainly a positive for those around him. The article never resolves the proper amount of “acceptable irrationality” that should be tolerated, but it is obvious that history has slowly lowered that amount. A gradual lowering of this amount is probably prudent. The medical ethicists from Harvard and Duke can’t arrive at a decision because they have a genuine amount of “acceptable irrationality” themselves. They retreat to William James’ tautology of the goodness of any religion as whether or not its effects in the world are beneficial and healthy.
Is it practical to impose rationality onto an irrational patient?
Is it practical to impose rationality onto an irrational planet?