(The following is taken from one of the footnotes in the “full version” of my essay “Against the Lie.”)
If there is one thing I hope to convey to the reader, it is the extreme importance to society of the subject matter of schizophrenia itself, especially as it pertains to religion, so that readers who share an anti-esotericist perspective can research it more than I have been able to do. I would also like to emphasize that the problems and traits associated with schizophrenia cannot be conceptually limited to those persons who have been officially diagnosed as “schizophrenic.” The striking similarity between religious esotericist modes of communication and schizophrenic modes of communication simply cannot be written off as trivial. And esotericist modes of communication underlie all of the world’s traditional religions—which in turn underlie all of human civilization. That means that if esotericist religion is a problem that all human beings have in common, then so too is schizophrenia. Nobody can live in human society without having been psychologically harmed by such a state of affairs. As such, I do not think it would go too far to say that all of human civilization as we know it is at least somewhat “schizophrenogenic,” i.e., schizophrenia-producing.
Related to this, consider what the authors of the medical journal article “The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered” write in their conclusion:
We suggest that some of civilization’s most significant religious figures may have had psychotic symptoms that contributed inspiration for their revelations. It is hoped that this analysis will engender scholarly dialogue about the rational limits of human experience and serve to educate the general public, persons living with mental illness, and healthcare providers about the possibility that persons with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic-spectrum disorders have had a monumental influence on civilization.
(Evan D. Murray, Miles G. Cunningham, and Bruce H. Price, The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 24:4, Fall 2012, p. 424.)
However, I wish to note that my own view is that it is the authors of the ancient esoteric writings who should be considered to have been at least somewhat psychotic, and to have been the persons who received the “revelations,” rather than the characters that they wrote about (such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus).
I also wish to note that my opposition to esoteric religion is not based on my necessarily having made any determination that the esotericist authors of the sacred scriptures of the world’s traditional religions somehow crossed “the rational limits of human experience”; nor any determination that we ought to extend what we conceive those limits to be. My opposition is instead based on the fact that those authors failed to communicate their experiences and revelations—whatever they were—in a way that was unambiguous and that would not be likely to mislead or unnecessarily confuse the general readership of their writings; and my opposition to esoteric religion is also based on my belief that by effectively requiring people to immerse themselves in writings of that kind—as the world’s traditional religions all do—those religions tend to promote the development of psychosis in society.
2 thoughts on “Is all of human civilization built upon a foundation of psychosis?”
Was thinking about this, no doubt especially monotheistic
Not only religions, but I think of the belief in free will as a functional psychosis, and I doubt the concept existed before civilization – though I doubt the idea of whether “you” were in control was even a conceivable question. Perhaps civilization and its caging of people is what prompted this idea to emerge (long essay). When someone pretends there’s a little string-pulling homunculus in their head that’s in control and making choices (e.g. a “therapist” I talk to at the VA), and they have no theoretical or scientific basis for this assertion, while plenty of evidence exists to the contrary, it can freak me out a little if I let it.
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