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Published on Apr 11, 2012
Recently Lillee and I had a discussion as to whether religion was linked to mental illness. Now, right away we are not referring to aberrant behavior connected to a chemical imbalance in the brain. We are primarily referring to those who have developed cognitive or behavioral issues or concerns.
Lillees reply was two-fold. On one hand, she gave an example where religious behavior could be a symptom of a preexisting mental illness; for example, a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder who could not leave the house until theyve completed 100 Hail Maries on their rosary beads. They could just as well have this need to clean and vacuum the entire house before they walk out the door. So, this is a plausible observation.
But can religion itself foment mental illness? On this issue, mental health professionals are too timid to commit to a definitive answer. Studies indicate that religious indoctrination can exacerbate a preexisting mental instability, but thats as far as theyll go. And this, of course, is what they teach in college.
My argument is that the behavioral scientists refuse to delve into this issue from a broader sociological perspective. If they did, they could only derive one conclusion that mental illness is a virus that permeates all levels of society and religion is often the source of the virus. Now, to prove my point, I am going to draw upon simple logic and observation and provide an example. It is my hope that youll give this some thought and be able to offer your own examples.
It usually starts with a taboo. Lets say we have a boy who grows up in a strict religious household. He is told over and over again that sexual attraction between members of the same sex is an abomination unto the Lord. Then he advances to the age of sexual awareness and realizes he is in fact gay or bisexual. At this point, he can go in one of two directions embrace his sexuality and fight to establish his own identity or deny his sexuality and then find ways to constantly suppress his true feelings.
Projection is a common method of dealing with suppression. We find teenage boys emotionally and physically battering peers who they find a bit effeminate or even attractive. Then they grow older and you read about male church leaders and politicians who have fought for years, opposing freedom for homosexuals, only to be caught on hotel security cameras sharing a room with a male prostitute or theyre behind the pulpit diddling altar boys.
One has to realize that once these hypocritical values are established, they are transmitted from one generation to the next and it wont matter if the next family is religious or non religious. And this is where confusion sets in the behaviorist evaluates the immediate environment and the current set of circumstances. And when he sees the same psychosis replicated everywhere, this alters his perception of reality insanity becomes the template from which normal behavior is established.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with an atheist who insisted that once we eliminate religion, people would be more in touch with their humanity, doing what comes natural and we will at last have a common bond.
I turned to him and said, You have an interesting theory, but it doesnt take into account two thousand years of screwing around with peoples minds. If you were to suddenly eliminate religion from the face of the earth, people would not revert to normal or natural behavior because we havent got a clue what normal or natural means anymore. The damage has already been done.
And if you think psychotherapy will help guess again. We live in a hateful, fearmongering world and the people we consider sane are thick skinned, the ones with all the psychological defense mechanisms. The people in the insane asylums are the weak ones who lack the proper social skills or coping mechanisms. But the real dangerous psychotics are our political and religious leaders the ones in control. All psychiatry does is institute social control, nothing more, whether its through meds or some form of intervention. Nobody is cured of anything and each day things just keep getting worse.
Its never too late to learn the truth and if youre scared, then perhaps you should be. I hope this gives you food for thought. Good night and good luck.