RE: Children and psychosis was: HEA report on religion and mental health

Chris Lofting (
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 18:31:30 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: Children and psychosis was: HEA report on religion and mental health
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 18:31:30 +1000
In-Reply-To: <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Lloyd Robertson
> Sent: Sunday, 17 October 1999 4:39
> To:;
> Subject: Re: Children and psychosis was: HEA report on religion and
> mental health

> But then again, to call all of these people "psychotic" seems a bit harsh.
> As Goldenhagen demonstrated in his book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners",
> the vast majority of the German population supported the Furher's basic
> aims with respect to the Jewish population. "Psychosis" implies an
> abberation from the norm. These people were the norm for their culture at
> that time. To label whole peoples as "psychotic" due to their
> political and
> religious beliefs, no matter how abbhorant to us here and now, turns
> psychology into name-calling.


you may have missed my point or else been influenced by Bill's perspective
where he made a strong association of fundamentalism implies psychosis. My
arguement is that there is a mental state common to our species that I call
'object oriented thinking', object mindedness. This state can be interpreted
as genotypal in that it has a set of behaviours that are 'pure' in form.
When these behaviours are expressed in different contexts so an
interpretation is made.

When you analyse the characteristics of object mindedness you find that the
following mental states (as in socially derived categorisations) all share
the same 'space' - object thinking space:

The child mind
The psychotic mind
The fundamentalist mind

we can add to these:

The idiot-savent mind
The logico-mathamatics mind
The genius mind (both 'science' and 'arts')

> I object also to labelling children as psychotic simply because they are
> not, developmentally, adults.

I have not done this, I have stressed that both minds share the same space
and so the labelling of child or psychotic is determined by the CONTEXT. I
made the point that the sharing of this space can lead to the interpretation
of the child mind as being psychotic (I used the phrase 'in a sense..').
This does not mean that the child is psychotic, in means that the
characteristics of the child mind are also those of the psychotic mind. For
a child to head into psychosis requires the child to ignore feedback and so
fail to modify their 'natural' behaviour -- they do not urinate where they
stand, they consider CONTEXT and so ask to go to the toilet etc etc the
psychotic mind is a 'natural' behaviour where the feedback process fails or
else never took place.

In this sense the child mind is equal to the psychotic mind until you add
social dynamics that acts as feedback. The child will/can change with the
feedback, the psychotic does not.

Yes, young children are self-centered and
> into magical thinking. This is a developmental stage they go thru. It does
> not imply that they are mentally ill.

magical thinking aka belief in miracles etc is a property of object thinking
in that this type of thinking ignores/is unaware of relational space, that
of relationship of object to other objects but more so object to context.
This form of thinking is also 'seen' in fundamentalism, both religious as
well as secular. It is also seen in basic mathematics and quantum mechanics!

> One final point, the case can be made that fundamentalist Christianity
> wants adherrants to be "as little children" in terms of a
> child-like belief
> in magical thinking. There are actual scriptural injunctions supporting
> this view. So I understand where Chris was going in connecting the
> psychology of little children with the psychology of fundamentalist
> Christians. On the other hand, I think it is a mistake to label either
> group as psychotic.

Ah.. you did miss the point -- the SPACE is the same for all of the
declared mental states, it is CONTEXT that leads to an interpretation, a
labelling. This is the genotype/phenotype pattern where the gene just 'does
its thing' and the resulting expression of gene in context is the phenotype
that we then label.

be found in ALL of the identified states. For example, delusion is an object
thinking characteristic and it IS applicable to all of the states discussed.
This does not necessarily mean that delusion is always negative, it is
delusion, the belief in something that it is deemed false by 'others', that
can go towards aiding a creative emphasis in that delusional thinking can be
interpreted as out-of-context thinking, but this same thinking is also
highly innovative. When your expression of an idea is socially 'wrong' you
are seen as delusional, 'insane', when 'right' you are declared a genius.

On the other hand, adaptive creativity is a property of RELATIONAL thinking
in that it always has an 'out there' context.

I am WELL aware of the potential problems that can emerge from being too
casual in discussing this but I think we MUST start to consider these
distinctions etc due to the emerging degree of refined neurological research
currently available.

Another property of object oriented thinking is the 'drive' for making a
perceived clear, precise identification and this identification to be valid
'for ever'. These are characteristics that we find in all of the mentioned
states; the dislike of change, the reductionist emphasis.

Thus we WILL find aspects of object thinking that are expressed in BOTH
fundamentalism and psychosis. We will then need to analyse these very
carefully to understand what is going on. This could be painful. It is
necessary and I think all of us on this list do have some degree of
intelligence such that we can avoid 'problems'. :-)

How would you prefer the mind state list to be described?



This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)