Psychology of Belief vs Psychosis and Belief

“The art of being Christian is knowing what to overlook”―Jim

Internet apologists and the pastor have made a leap into the chasm few can crawl out of. I’ve got my ear to the edge, listening for the landing. Instead of enlightened prose filled with answered questions, what do we hear? A word machine that no longer functions to serve the needs of half filled halls, a babbling scramble to philosophize imagination into sensible reality, chambers echoing contradiction in the face of fact. What I’ve learned the past few days is, to say the least, boring but under par from what we’ve come to expect. Science cannot comprehend what Mel learned in bible study. DP’s final cause justifies the means, and if gods people have to use irrationality to further the cause, so be it. And finally, creationist claims to show how the world was made is not making scientific claim.

Does he have any explanation that makes any sense unless he wants it to make sense.. he is by far the biggest, willful contradiction of late. I don’t see how, with a straight face can claim science (a massive, connected group of intellectual researchers, many who are Christian) and a person such as himself cannot see the same things when applying the same questions? We cannot see what you see? Can we see ego? Should I call a MHP?

“The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook”—William James

“How does the clinician distinguish normal, culturally appropriate religious beliefs from psychotic symptoms? Unfortunately, it is not always so easy. A delusion is defined as a fixed, false belief that the person cannot be dissuaded from no matter how much evidence to the contrary. The atheist may readily believe that the religious person suffers from a fixed, false belief, so this depends to some extent on the worldview of the person judging the particular belief. Likewise, deeply religious non-psychotic persons may talk about hearing the voice of God or experiencing a religious vision, such as occurred in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Hercegovina. However, as noted earlier, religious delusions occur in persons with psychosis more than one-quarter to one-third of the time, and may be used to determine whether or not a psychosis is present. Thus, distinguishing religious beliefs and experiences from those that are psychotic becomes an urgent dilemma for the clinician”(1)I should caveat here and add; I think many things are possible among our connectedness as a species. That doesn’t make it automatically god, but an intuition or receptive gene that can play to our benefit. Overdoing it can lead you to an unholy land. Jerusalem Squabble Poison.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

39 thoughts on “Psychology of Belief vs Psychosis and Belief”

  1. “How does the clinician distinguish normal, culturally appropriate religious beliefs from psychotic symptoms? Unfortunately, it is not always so easy. A delusion is defined as a fixed, false belief that the person cannot be dissuaded from no matter how much evidence to the contrary….”
    Dr. Peter Sapolsky calls religion a mental illness. He used the term schizotypal and in one of his lectures he states that it is measurable. GROG

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    1. I have to dance the dance. As long as it’s a functional level of delusion (lol) it’s acceptable. I know, but rome wasn’t built in a day.

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    1. I’ll give you 2 bonus points for that one. ‘Tis true and the way of belief. But you can only truly believe until confronted with actual evidence, then its decision time. Live in hypocrisy, or change your tunes.

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        1. Believing in spite of obvious contradictions is difficult for me. I used to do it daily through faith, but when you see a contradiction, check the premises. At least one is wrong, and sometimes both.

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          1. I used to skydive back in the 80’s. I’m going again with my daughter for her 16th birthday. She’s eight next month and already planning it. She’s a fearless nut

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  2. This is a very interesting problem.
    Of course any experience has a ‘first person ontology’ which makes it unquestionable from the outside.
    But the clinician is not questioning the delusional experience on those ground; she is granting that the psychotic person really experiences an alien transmitter putting thoughts in his head, for example.
    The clinician is concerned when it becomes clear that the psychotic is prepared to take a drill to his skull to remove the alien receiver from his head.
    The difference lies in the significance of the statements in question.
    Delusional, odd beliefs are cognitive, while non-delusional, odd beliefs are non-cognitive.
    That doesn’t mean that I can’t really believe that aliens are broadcasting thoughts into my head without being delusional.
    I can treat my belief provisionally, while feeling that it perfectly represents my attitude toward a world where such things ought to happen.
    The latter arrangement remains rational in its consequences and seems to be how most religious people hold their beliefs.

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    1. Excellent points. We were taught, when at the door and things got dicey, bear your personal testimony. The problem with that was the vast majority had no personal testimony, but parroting what their parents and teacher had taught us to say, what to believe, and how to apply it. But you’re right, and religion uses that play on human nature as an irrefutable witness. Whence you combine the differing disciplines of cognitive behavior and psychology are you finally able to see the faith trap and all its mindery. By then I was 50. Lol

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  3. What I find hard to grasp with mel and the ontological shelf he’s chosen to land on is just how unbelievable that ontological shelf is. Everything contradicts it. Nothing supports it. The internal struggle that must rage inside his head every day is beyond my comprehension.

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    1. Same here. There are those that are a little more intuitive than others in various areas. That doesn’t make it god. It means each of us holds a purpose for the benefit of the species. Nothing more than that. Even some here that read this blog have these feelings and intuitions of nature. I concur, but they don’t sit around and make up lies about it. They follow their given senses. Mel has found an idea he wants to be true, encompassing everyone on the planet with his own messy contrivance and that will never work.

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    1. I think we can reasonably go there. There is some unexplainable phenomena and we all have different abilities for the benefit or understanding of our connectedness here. The key is healthy levels. There is no set rule that says we can’t reach out amongst our many ideas and benefit from some transference of energy or knowledge. My mother and I had this type of connection. I would walk in the house and ask her what she wanted. She hadn’t called me yet, but I knew she was getting ready to need me for something. That doesn’t make it the Abrahamic god.

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      1. I agree, Jim. I worry about the ‘no true atheist’ thing and others do too. I am reading a book called ‘Extraordinary Knowing’ by E. L. Mayer. It takes a healthy approach to such phenom, but not finished yet. Doesn’t make it any god.

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      2. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head this time: the Abrahamic God. There’s THE in your face problem, or rather, what RELIGIOUS PEOPLE make of that “entity” – however it is otherwise perceived outside of the control experiment that is organized religion, an experiment that proved so successful that those who invented it and put themselves in charge decided to expand the lab to include the entire planet. We all know the methods used to get “volunteers” but it’s really sad when the debilitated lab rats become convinced they are both, special and superior to all others…

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        1. Sha’Tara!! Nicely phrased. Not only successful but built upon, changed, evolved into the professionally staged performance it is today. Manufactured emotions designed to delight the unsuspecting, with a genetic disposition of compliance. To bad the dead, non compliant can’t help us today with their words of warning.

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  4. What has always puzzled me is how our culture separates anything touched by “religion” into an entirely different category from other types of abnormal behavior.

    A long time ago my next door neighbor was a paranoid schizophrenic. He was actually a really nice guy, a very gentle, caring person, and the whole neighborhood kept an eye out for him. I talked with him quite a bit and got to be good friends with him. He woke up one day in a hospital and found out he’d been claiming he was General MacArthur’s son, was having conversations with the General, and believing all kinds of very odd things. So his family intervened and got him treatment. He still had issues, couldn’t work, had epilepsy on top of it, the poor fellow.

    But when someone comes along and claims they’ve “seen” god, that god actually talks to them, and begin claiming all sorts of things that are provably false, well, that’s different from what happened to my friend, somehow? Not only are we supposed to respect their beliefs because they’re shrouded in the cloak of religion, we are supposed to believe their claims ourselves? Why do we consider a type of behavior, or abnormal belief, or denial of reality to be mental illness in one case, but when cloaked in religion those same behaviors and beliefs are just fine and should be respected?

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    1. Many of those things have plausible explanations today. Hypnagogic sounds and visuals are merely byproducts of healthy brain function, cleansing, dreaming and so forth. Most people’s first instinct is to credit those very real feeling tics in the system to god, when there is a perfectly sound explanation and it happens to nearly everyone. But, you have to look.

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  5. I’ve read the Wikip. article. Does being an “atheist” mean that one is not permitted to even entertain the idea that non-human, invisible “presences” could be present in certain places, or at certain times to influence people in their minds? I ask because I am of those who have always been receptive to input from non-human or physical presences. I can hear them and sometimes I can see them. Does that make me a psychotic? Testing that would be interesting if there are such tests.

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    1. There are people who refer to themselves as Atheist-Pagans – they have similar experiences to what you wrote but do not believe in literal Gods. Mark Green of Atheopagan writes a blog about this.

      There is a range of religious and physical experiences that has to be parsed out. I am a Roman Polytheist, so I believe in spirits or presences and Gods. I believe that it is up to each person to understand what it they want to believe or not. As for what you described a lot of Pagans and Polytheists have similar experiences. They range from the Atheist-Pagans to Naturalist Pagans (i.e. no Gods, but Nature can be divine) to folks like me. So no, you are aren’t psychotic.

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      1. I like that answer. There are a variety of options, where I get confused is the pastors abilities to just hand-wave off blatant contradiction. It is so important you believe him, he’ll lie about his conclusions and dismiss anyone that doesn’t agree with pure nonsense at times. That isn’t a healthy religious level imo.

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    2. I wouldn’t say it makes you psychotic. My wife is also very receptive as you say, and I like the word intuitive. You have a slightly different tuning and receive a slightly different pitch or vibration, if I could speculate,, but that doesn’t automatically make it god. If I could add just a little to that, research is showing much of your ability in this realm is a projection of self, which doesn’t necessarily discount your validity of using these projections to acquire personal experience in that tuning/vibration, or other energy levels. Make sense?

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      1. Thanks for that Jim and I most certainly did not mean to imply that my “intuitive awarenesses” were in any way God. In fact I know they are not because when I tried to explain these things in the God environment, I got thrown out. Proof, that. When I say (claim to know) that “god” exists, I use two yardsticks. One, “god” exists by virtue of all those “idolaters” who make the idol write, speak, cajole, threaten, make promises and demands that it be seriously recognized. That “god” is an idol. The other yardstick is what I know of what are termed “aliens” on this world. Just mentioning that I am aware of such entities and how some of them interact with Earthian powers and how these are being manipulated. These alien entities are “gods” in their own rights because they fit the characteristics in terms of character and power. The Egyptians, Greeks, Celts and Nordics were not crazy: they were all aware of “stuff” we choose not to consider as real these days. Enough said on that “here” I think. Just “opinions” right?

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        1. I have to think on some of that, and as I have followed your own writings I am open to more discussion. God is an idol! I like the implications of that for one reason, probably more, but everything is Abrahamic faith presents itself the opposite of what we observe. This is the grandest slight-of-hand of the all. Don’t worship any idols…but ours! And we bought it hook, line and sinker because the idol/idea is incomprehensible.

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          1. I’ll try to be brief, but this is a question for the entire forum, I think: why do we “Earthians” hanker after forces or powers that are entirely illogical? Let’s say it began with Religion – no logic at all there. Then organized government, or the State: equally illogical as it produces nothing but takes more than the lion’s share of the collective wealth to maintain itself… and it does this by lying. Then Money, nothing but a massive delusion and Ponzi scheme. We, as intelligent, sentient self aware beings do not need any of these things because we are better in ourselves than these idols. Would we not, at heart, rather be sharers of wealth, givers to those who need legitimate help; healers in whatever modality we are proficient in? Would we not all rather, deep down, be “good” and interact positively with one another? And what’s stopping us? These illogical “things” we make so much of when we should be laughing at them.

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            1. It all starts with fear. Taboo has a great analogy about selling lightning rods. Car salesman sell safety, airbags, antilock, gotta have em. Insurance—well you know that game. All about fear and they sell us something we never could imagine up on our own. Fear is a best seller, and religion plays that card to perfection. Create the fear and offer the solution, and given the chance it becomes a law like the rest of them.

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    3. Sha’Tara, the way that I look at atheism is the way Michael Shermer put it in his book The Believing Brain. Intellectually we can only be agnostic, but there is no way to disprove an intelligent creator starting the whole show. Now once we attribute characteristics to that creator and say that he’s around, talking to people, performing miracles or what have you then we might be able to challenge such assertions. But in the end, given our current state our knowledge we can’t say there is no God of any kind. So agnosticism is the only sensible intellectual position we can have. Now Shermer describes atheism as a behavioral position. Meaning that you live your life as if there were no Gods. This might apply to spirits or the supernatural. You can remain open to their existence, but you are ultimately not altering your life because you think there might be something out there.

      I think it’s also important to distinguish between what might be a psychotic episode as to what might be a clinical diagnosis of being psychotic. Certainly you would not be the latter. Part of the problem with delusion is that as an individual one can never be sure. I recently shared a story on another blog comment about a student I had who said she believed in God because she had these episodes of seeing colors extremely vividly. She reasoned that God was communicating with her in some way. I was curious about this phenomenon and wanted to see how common such an experience was. In my research I found that what she had might have been a rare form of epilepsy as what she had reported had been experienced before by a few other people. The point is that everything we see is filtered through our brain. We see the reality that our brain processes, and those brain processes can be going on without us opening our eyes, ears, mouth, etc. It is possible through sickness, TBI, sleep deprivation, anxiety and a host of other things that hallucinations can occur at that these are indistinguishable from what we would normally consider “real events”. As the author of these experiences you cannot know whether what you are experiencing is real or not. All you can do is recognize that there may also be a natural explanation for why you experienced an event that seemed real but is unexplained through any other means.

      But I would say that whether or not you believe a hallucination is real is less important than what you do because of it. If it gives life a little more wonder to you, if it makes you happy, and you don’t really care if anybody else experiences life the same way, then I say knock yourself out. 🙂

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        1. Personally Nan, having had my turn as a charismatic “attractor” of “me too’s” I am much more comfortable with people who do not experience life the way I do, or seek to experience it the same as someone else, usually some adulated person. When we can honestly and preferably humbly, share dissimilar ideas without insisting that ours are the correct ones, then we have dialogue and that can lead to some pretty amazing results. If however someone enters a conversation convinced that they are right no matter what anyone else thinks or says, that is going to create conflict. When I did religion I was continually told to attend church, bible studies and meetings on a regular basis. I finally got it: group think. Dissenting thoughts and ideas are not permitted in those settings. If you have a child you may think that little life is the most amazing of all, but that does not mean that child is the superlative over all other children. I know certain things because of certain personal experiences which cannot be denied but it would be foolish of me to expect another, any other, to know those same things without passing through similar experiences. Claims of similarity without the experiences have proven false, over and over, religious brainwashing notwithstanding. Some things I know for facts others can probably never know. Some things others know for facts I will probably never know – because simply, I haven’t been there. If we use our knowledge to build, uphold, heal “in real time” then we should be focusing on that and let go those differences of opinion, awareness, choice of beliefs, all those things that keep us apart, divided and always conquered. They’re fun to engage and talk about, but they are deadly when fought over. That’s when nobody wins.

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