RE: Children and psychosis was: HEA report on religion and mentalhealth

Chris Lofting (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 05:01:15 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: Children and psychosis was: HEA report on religion and mentalhealth
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1999 05:01:15 +1000
In-Reply-To: <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Bill Spight
> Sent: Friday, 15 October 1999 2:48
> To:
> Subject: Re: Children and psychosis was: HEA report on religion and
> mentalhealth
> Dear Chris,
> Chris:
> "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"
> That is just a touch different to the way you reformatted it to
> become an absolute assertion with no context. Very 'totalist' of you :-)
> What 'nerve' did I touch?
> Bill:
> Yes, you touched a couple of nerves. I did not reply to them
> directly, because I like you and I do not believe that your
> intentions were less than benign. But since you asked. . . .
> Chris:
> Fundamentalist thinking is child-like, and so is psychotic thinking.
> Bill:
> This is a fallacy: A therefore B, C therefore B, suggesting A
> therefore C; i. e., that fundamentalist thinking is psychotic. I
> dislike such name-calling and smearing with a broad brush.

No.. my emphasis is that all three favour object thinking, 'left brained' to
use a 'lite' term. I note that here and later your emphasis is on the
fundamentalist-psychosis link. Ok. Lets discuss this.

I do realise that the linking of fundamentalism with psychosis will generate
'tension' but it is a fact that both mental states share the same basic
characteristics which are also characteristics of child-mindedness.

Perhaps it is the playfulness of fundamentalism that can attract the

> Chris:
> Jamestown etc suggests a severe mental problem in fundamentalist
> groups (heaven's gate (?)as well).
> Bill:
> (I think that you are referring to Jonestown. -- Although I am
> sure that there were plenty of problems in Jamestown, as well. ;-))

oops! sorry, yes Jonestown.

> Again the broad brush.

ummm not that broad, I think we could consider a lot of other fundamentalist
groups and find the same patterns.

> OED:
> Fundamentalism . . .
> A religious movement . . . based on strict adherence to orthodox
> tenets (e. g., the literal inerrancy of Scripture) held to be
> fundamental to the Christian faith.

rephrasable to "a movement...based on strict adherence to orthodox tenets...
held to be fundamental to X faith." it is not just religious, there are also
secular forms. Darwinists and Lamarckians can become fundamentalist when
pushed. Any contraction leads to a process of objectication -- a defence
mechanism -- as is 'soft' psychosis.

> Bill:
> OC, we apply the term to other religions than Christianity, e.
> g., to Islam and Judaism. I suppose that we could call Hinayana
> Buddhism fundamentalist, too, by contrast with Mahayana.


> However, with a new cult such a Heaven's Gate, can we even talk
> about traditional belief? I do not know much about the teaching
> of Jones, but I am not at all sure that it was fundamentalist. I
> would think that the cult of personality in Jonestown was rather
> *unorthodox*, however.

I think the emphasis in fundamentalism is the encapsulation, the
objectification of the group to such a degree that there is a 'cut', an 'us'
vs 'them'. 'We' are/know the 'true' God, whatever.

Both Jonestown and Heaven's Gate showed this as do most cults.

> Linking fundamentalism with such extreme groups is a smear tactic
> of which I thoroughly disapprove. As I said, I do not believe you
> had malicious intent, but that was one nerve you touched.

hmm.. OK I get your point but I think your perspective is a little different
to mine. I am looking at genotype, what is behind these sorts of behaviour
and the common ground is object-oriented thinking. I am not interested in
phenotype and so into 'smearing'. I am looking at what is behind things and
this can/will upset people but I think it is time to seriously review where
we are as a species and this includes considering the
child-fundamentalist-psychosis link.

> The second nerve was the use of a psychological term as a
> put-down. When you say that all children are born psychotic, you
> do not mean that in a derogatory fashion. However, when you take
> that descriptive statement and apply it to religious belief, the
> term becomes derogatory. Your intent does not matter.

Again I can see you point but we cannot deny the 'facts' when making
behavioural analysis. There IS a 'dark' side to fundamentalism and note that
my emphasis is on fundamentalism and not to human spirituality (where there
also is a 'dark' side!).

> You are suggesting that fundamentalism is a delusion that people
> suffer from because there is something wrong with them. It is
> also possible to say that fundamentalism is an illusion, without
> suggesting personal flaws in its followers.

But saying this IMPLIES flaws in the form of gullability. :-)

Fundamentalism includes Scientists, mostly physics, chemistry and
mathematics. The object oriented mind is the source of logic and mathematics
and all 'root' dichotomy thinking. The neurology works that way and this
filters up to object oriented thinking.

Is this illusion? I dont think so. I think the fundamentalist problem comes
when qualitative processes are taken as a literal group experience that is
sourced 'out there'.

Object oriented thinking is fundamental to human thought in that it is the
reductionist, seeking clarity, seeking and asserting identity element. The
other 'side' is the relativist, multi-context, change-seeking,
re-identifying, relationships oriented thinking.

MIXING these fundamental modes of thought leads to novel expressions that
include social illusions. These illusions can help to unite society as well
as split it up.

> Your statement is rather strong. And it is problematic from a
> memetic point of view. Most people adhere to the belief systems
> of their cultures. Does that mean that there is something wrong
> with them?

Depends on evolution. The CONTEXT will determine survival.

Fundamentalism is interesting to me, memetically,
> because of the strength it gives to written memes. (The G-meme
> triumphant!) The chief characteristic of fundamentalist thinking
> is dogmatic adherence to scripture and orthodoxy. What does that
> have to do with psychotic thinking?

It is object oriented. Encapsulation. Withdrawl from 'reality'. Rejects
change. Insists on it being the 'true' clarity and all others are 'false'
(all very 'us' vs 'them'). Emphasis on precision. Any possible
re-interpretation is seen as evil with 'dark' motives. In a social context
this can happen with the power struggles etc but in a Scientific context you
do need to look at things seriously. We are now in a time where we have the
tools to show is 'in here' at work and from that we need to review all past
models even if we have cherished them for centuries. We have to do this Bill
regardless of the consequences of what it says about current beliefs. In our
innocense we 'did not know' and that is acceptable but to 'know' and still
continue in that way is 'not good' -- unless you like it :-)

Hard Science is fundamentalist. There is nothing 'wrong' with it but it can
manifest a belief in miracles at times :-)



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