Schizophrenia and Religoius Preoccupation

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Schizophrenia and Religoius Preoccupation

Postby cantskate on December 27th, 2007, 11:13 pm 

Why is it that schizophrenics are so very often religiously preoccupied?

This is counter-intuitive. Let me explain. If I heard voices, or saw impossible things happening you would undoubtedly feel a sense of awe. But not awe in the positive sense, rather an all consuming terror. Put yourself in the shoes of a schizophrenic and imagine what emotions you would feel if you heard disembodied voices talking to you (or any of the situations that schizophrenics find themselves in).

But terror is not seen as a trait belonging to good. People are terrified of dying, or terrified of finding out they have cancer, or you fill in the blank. Imagine that you lived millions of years ago, and were sitting at the edge of a deep, dark forest not knowing what was inside. You hear things you don't recognize, you can't see it, and nothing bad has happened yet but it is only natural that you would be terrified of that forest and regard it is a bad, dangerous place.

Now, the religious ascribe every good thing to God. Whether or not this is logical is besides the point, the important part is that they do.

This is where things become counter-intuitive. A schizophrenic experiences awe-filled terror because of what they think they see and hear. But then they link it to what they believe to be the ultimate embodiment of good? Instead of scratching and clawing their way away from the source of terror they pursue it and try to obey it? Going back to my example of the dark forest millions of years ago - if you felt an overwhelming sense of terror because of the forest would your response be to go straight into the forest and make your home there? So the question is this: why are schizophrenics oftentimes religiously preoccupied when it is so counter-intuitive?
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Postby Giacomo on December 28th, 2007, 12:05 am 

Here's something funny: If you hear voices you cannot cope with, then you're classified as mentally ill, but if you hear voices you can cope with, then you're a psychic. And, if you say that you talk to God, then you're considered holy, but if you admit that God talks to you, then you're considered insane.
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Postby Removed user on December 28th, 2007, 12:14 am 

I had a patient once who had some years before participated in a certain incident in Vietnam; his M-16 began talking to him, telling him to use it to do things. Do you know that someone in a green uniform tied up with five pistol belts looks exactly like a green caterpillar?
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Postby harmony on December 28th, 2007, 6:25 pm 

Giacomo:

Here's something funny: If you hear voices you cannot cope with, then you're classified as mentally ill, but if you hear voices you can cope with, then you're a psychic. And, if you say that you talk to God, then you're considered holy, but if you admit that God talks to you, then you're considered insane.


Well said! :)

cantskate:

I think that one reason why there is a religious association with schizophrenics (though I'm not sure that this has been truly established) is that along with all of the goodness that is ascribed to God, there is also a great deal of badness. Nothing in this world, for example, can compare to the prospect of eternal suffering in a hell. Furthermore, the idea of being judged and found wanting by a being with unlimited power and penchant for vengenge (if we are to believe the stories in the Bible such as the plaugues that afflicted the Egyptians) is quite terrifying.

The Old Testament basically tells us to fear God. The New testament tries to tell us to Love God and each other, but it stills talks about hell and damnation and the Book of Revelations is some pretty scary stuff, no? The Koran, also speaks about loving and fearing God and Islamic believers like to point out that it mentions both an equal number of times (it might be 500 each, but I can't remember). There is some dispute as to the English translation of the Arabic word used to denote fear, however, as this word has more than one meaning and another meaning is more akin to 'revere'. Islmaic scholars still debate this point. In some Buddhist sects there are a great number of hells and 'evil' souls can be reborn as cockroaches (this belief in exists some forms of Hinduism as well). I must say that such a prospect is more than a little bit scary.

In short, keeping these things in mind, it is not surprising that some people who hear voices and associate them with religion get freaked out by what they hear. Along with the good, a great deal of bad has been thrown in.
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Postby _Saladin_ on December 28th, 2007, 7:17 pm 

harmony wrote:Giacomo:

Here's something funny: If you hear voices you cannot cope with, then you're classified as mentally ill, but if you hear voices you can cope with, then you're a psychic. And, if you say that you talk to God, then you're considered holy, but if you admit that God talks to you, then you're considered insane.


Well said! :)

cantskate:

I think that one reason why there is a religious association with schizophrenics (though I'm not sure that this has been truly established) is that along with all of the goodness that is ascribed to God, there is also a great deal of badness. Nothing in this world, for example, can compare to the prospect of eternal suffering in a hell. Furthermore, the idea of being judged and found wanting by a being with unlimited power and penchant for vengenge (if we are to believe the stories in the Bible such as the plaugues that afflicted the Egyptians) is quite terrifying.

The Old Testament basically tells us to fear God. The New testament tries to tell us to Love God and each other, but it stills talks about hell and damnation and the Book of Revelations is some pretty scary stuff, no? The Koran, also speaks about loving and fearing God and Islamic believers like to point out that it mentions both an equal number of times (it might be 500 each, but I can't remember). There is some dispute as to the English translation of the Arabic word used to denote fear, however, as this word has more than one meaning and another meaning is more akin to 'revere'. Islmaic scholars still debate this point. In some Buddhist sects there are a great number of hells and 'evil' souls can be reborn as cockroaches (this belief in exists some forms of Hinduism as well). I must say that such a prospect is more than a little bit scary.

In short, keeping these things in mind, it is not surprising that some people who hear voices and associate them with religion get freaked out by what they hear. Along with the good, a great deal of bad has been thrown in.


Well yes, "khasheeya" may conventionally mean fear in Arabic, but it doesn't necessarily mean fear so much as revere, like you said. It basically means to be in awe of him as I understand it.
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Postby newyear on December 28th, 2007, 7:55 pm 

Believing in god provides a form of security, which is what all believers seek. Schizophrenics or not.

Giacomo, Swedenborg heard angels speaking to him, and I don't think anyone would call him insane. His visions and religious ideas have been a source of inspiration for a number of prominent writers including Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Butler Yeats and August Strindberg.

Moses and JC also heard voices. Whether this be true or not is not the question, but that of thinking that they were not sane, or the 'voices' were used as an irrefutable example.
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