RE: HEA report on religion and mental health

Chris Lofting (
Wed, 13 Oct 1999 16:35:21 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 16:35:21 +1000
In-Reply-To: <>

It is not so much the religion that is good for you, it is the socialisation
that is good for you. Fundamentalism can get you killed but the socilisation
forms a group of 'us' vs 'them' rather than 'I' vs 'the world' and so the
group becomes a support system.

Fundamentalist thinking is child-like, and so is psychotic thinking.
Jamestown etc suggests a severe mental problem in fundamentalist groups
(heaven's gate (?)as well).

In this sense all children are born psychotic but are allowed to be in that
they have not developed their social skills. Problems come when some or all
of the psychosis continues into adulthood, thus tearing off the wings of
chickens is 'understandable' for children, but not for adults, thus CONTEXT
determines the formal categorisation of behaviour, a behaviour that is
'invarient', it is social constraints that act to control the expression of
the behaviour and if this is 'faulty' in some way then you are going to have

At the group level, fundamentalist groups can also be secular in that an
ideology is deemed the 'one and true' way and so people will kill for these
faiths, literally and metaphorically (cut others off).

The problem with the fundamentalism is that something/someone is taken
literally, the bible, koran, darwin, lamarck, god etc etc are not seen as

The catholic church, as well as the protestants, are not exactly spiritually
'pure' when it comes to fundamentalism, they have encouraged fundamentalist
attitudes and these institutions themselves have personas that have a
fundamentalist leaning with an 'us' vs 'them' emphasis. Taoism and Zen also
favour fundamentalist approaches (emphasis on 'the moment') but these stress
more the *personal* side rather than the *group* side.

Spirituality is initially something personal, a relatonship between you and
your 'god'. Sharing that with other like-minded individuals can be healthy
but when it becomes structured and rigid it takes on object oriented
mannerisms that include formal encapsulation of the 'creed' and from that a
willingless to die for it. THAT is psychotic in that the relational aspect
is removed, one (the group) no longer has a relationship with 'other' (e.g.
'god') but BECOMES 'god' or sees themselves as the 'hand' of 'god' (and so
at least a part of the body if not the whole). Within the group all are
smiling but these smiles turn to hate when the group has to turn and face
'out there'.

The passive side is the acceptence of the seemingly miraculous as well as
the expectation of the miraculous to 'save' you/the_group. The concept of a
miracle is a property of fundamentalist thinking where the relational
processes between things etc is 'forgotten', this is like the mind of a
child/psychotic. (note how 'miracle' and 'randomness' share the same space,
it is the qualitative assessment (direct relational emphasis of event to
perceiver, with no consideration of event-to-context) by us that determines
the interpretation of that space.)

When Jesus is quoted as saying you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven
unless you have the mind of a child, we can see this as a description of the
object oriented, fundamentalist thinking required to get you to believe in
the miraculous; as long as you try to determine what is behind things so you
lack faith! but it is this questioning that has enabled us to get around
some of the cons that go with fundamentalist thinking! (gets back to the
Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden -- that tree manifests getting
*behind* things -- questioning rather than taking things 'as is' and it is
this questioning that is seen as a lack of faith.)

Spirituality is part of us. It is an emergent property resulting from
consciousness etc. To para Pointcare, there is no need for the 'god'

Intellectually we all still have a degree of 'child-mindedness' and it is
important to keep it as it serves as our source of wonder but from a
sociological perspective problems can arise when it is allowed to 'take
over'. Ideally we need to be more in the 'middle' or with a slight leaning
to the child-mind and so maintain some degree of innovative creativity.

Social take-over can be just as bad in that the individual is drowned-out
and so we stagnate, creativity is at best adaptive. Note how in the Catholic
church there is little or no participation in the celebration (communion
etc) the priests do it all for you! That is hierarchic where the church
takes on the role of parent and so keeps the people as eternal children and
these eternal children can do whatever they like as long as they confess to
their 'sins' .. but only to the church since to confess to others is to
involve yourself with 'out there', 'them' vs 'us'.

We can conjecture that Western civilisation, especially the English speaking
countries (and the US in particular), manifest a strong bias to
child-mindedness. With this comes a strong drive for 'new' things ('we' hate
left-overs) a love of toys and fun and lots of 'us' vs 'them' scenarios, and
at what cost? 80+% of energy is used by our civilisation and yet we
represent only a small part of the total population and there is little
consideration of consequence (another aspect of the child mind - we dont
want to even see 'darkness' -- get *behind* me satan...).

We dream of getting off the planet and so being able to maintain the 'fun',
to spread out into the universe, and at the same time are faced with the
'fact' that this cannot be done 'today' or 'tomorrow'.

In this sense we do need to 'grow up' a bit more and become a bit more
spiritually 'aware' but not to the degree of re-establishing institutional
religion. We also need to consider our encouragement of third-world
countries to develop along the same path since this will lead to more

In our current culture mental problems are many and it is socialisation that
can be healthy to the 'depressed' but it is not all onesided as far as
'good'/'bad' is concerned, we need to be more discerning in education,
socialisation,etc. Better a planet full of 'young' adults (with its
accompanying degree of neurosis) than child-minded fundamentalist groups as
we seem to have now. Over-emphasising that 'religion is good for you' can
drive people to join such groups!!



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