Is Religion a Mental Illness? Dec 13, 2020 14:52:59 GMT 10
Post by Wayne Smith on Dec 13, 2020 14:52:59 GMT 10
Is Faith Delusion?
Are all people with religious belief, a priori, suffering from mental illness? Sigmund Freud in 'Moses and Monotheism’ stated that belief in a single God is delusional 3. His contemporary, William James, was somewhat more circumspect and considered that spiritual and psychotic experiences were broadly distinguishable 4. In this paper, I intend to answer the question of my title from the standpoint of descriptive pathology. I will then discuss what other psychiatric symptoms or syndromes could be used to explain the presence of religious belief. If faith is not evidence of an Axis I psychiatric disorder 5, is it a feature of personality disorder or abnormality? Finally, I want to discuss what religious belief is phenomenologically.
I started with the question, is faith delusion? I spent some time looking at precisely what delusion is in psychopathology and then measuring religious faith against it. I concluded that faith, of itself, is not and cannot be delusion, although people frequently have delusions that include religious and spiritual content. I covered briefly various other abnormal phenomenological states and found that, although those with religious belief may well experience them, faith was not causative. I also looked at the nature of personality to assess whether faith could be construed as a product of abnormal personality. Although variations of personality affect the manifestation and self-experience of belief, religious faith exists independent of personality. Finally, I examined the phenomenon of faith, observing its cognitive, affective and volitional aspects. This process has been carried out from the perspective of descriptive psychopathology.