Monday, October 23, 2006

Why People Believe In God(s)

A friend has kindly allowed me to post the following explanation that they have previously published. I have decided to publish it here because (a) it summarises, succinctly, much of what my own observations and studies over the years have shown to be the case, and (b) it was part of an award-winning thesis on the psychopathology of delusional behaviours:-


Initially, in evolutionary terms, it was due to ignorance - being unable to explain natural phenomena by natural means - and I dare say that still prevails in parts of the world where people are still primitive, in the anthropological sense of that word. However, as societies become less primitive, the real ‘engine’ of this desire to believe in a supernatural world is the psychopathology of the individual in question.

The word ‘psychopathology’ is used accurately, because belief in a god or gods fulfils the diagnosis and aetiology of psychosis, as described in the ‘Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases (TR IV)’.

Anyone who does not accept this fact has only to substitute the words “the Invisible Pink Unicorn” in their so-called ‘holy book’ in place of the name of their god, and then go around claiming that the IPU created the cosmos et al; they will rapidly find themselves incarcerated in an institution for the care of the mentally disturbed, even though they are saying and doing nothing other than any other theist does.

Furthermore, any psychiatrist will confirm that one of the most intractable mental illnesses to deal with is psychosis, which explains why most theists are totally resistant to rationality. Unfortunately, this means that often the only hope for those who are afflicted with this particular illness is long-term treatment with anti-psychotic medication.

The only people who proclaim that they are theists who are not psychotics are those who are simply exploiting those who are! However, even they must take care; after years of pretending to believe in that irrational and unsubstantiatable nonsense, the chances are that they, in turn, will develop psychosis too!


Fortunately, Risperidone is a uniquely effective anti-psychotic used to great effect in dealing with delusional psychosis. Unfortunately, most psychotics do not want to take it of their own free will, so it has to be administered to them, often with some measure of compulsion.


None333333 said...

I'm cool w/you as long as they don't put you in government office so you can start systematically drugging people like me.

How come religious belief is not is the DSM as a mental illness?

Scotch said...

Wow! Wish you would have told that to my "doctor" who insisted that a higher power had to play a part in my grief counseling. Rock ON!!!

The Merchant of Menace said...

To myquestioningmind, sorry I missed your comment until now, and I hope that it is not too late for you to see this.

Fact is that 'DSM-IV (TR)' is a political document as much as anything. For example, the way that the classification of homosexuality or some of the paraphilias were/are classified in each subsequent edition.

Religious belief is not classified as a psychosis as long as 'it is supported by the cultural or social background of the believer'. In other words, if your society sanctions belief in god, you are not 'psychotic' according to the 'DSM-IV' (or the ICD-10), but you are considered psychotic if you believe that the world was created by Cthulthu and the Elder Ones, since that is not a 'generally sanctioned delusional belief'.

Fact is, there is nothing to distinguish either from an individual's psychopathological standpoint; both beliefs are entirely delusional since they cannot be supported by evidential science, logic, or rationality.

The Merchant of Menace said...

To scotch,

Apologies for missing your comment until now.

Next time someone 'authority figure' advises you to pray to a higher power, tell them you worship Coatlicue, but the trouble is She does not answer prayers unless they are accompanied by human-sacrifice, so is it all right if you use the 'authority figure' as the sacrificant!

That should then result in a lenghty argument regarding why their version of a 'higher power' is any more credible than your professed belief in Coatlicue, and by the time you have tied them up in logical knots you will have forgotten all o
about your grief - at least for the time of the argument!

Seriously, though, I hope you are over it now. If all else fails, remember the words of the Buddhist sage: "It will pass." And it will, all of it, for all of us.

Take care.

None333333 said...

Git, I knew you were a warm and fuzzy guy deep down. Alas, I am on effexor for the dysthymia, which seems to help me from being all weepy and irritable. Actually a couple counselor types in my churchy recommended this.

The deep dark crushing depression I suffered with all my life began to lift when I turned to God and became a tongue talking holy roller. Today it no longer rules me life. So you can make fun of me all ya' want but the changes I've experienced in my life are proof enough for me.

Take care and thanks for visiting my blog.

The Merchant of Menace said...


I'm afraid that just believing something because it makes one feel better is not considered proof per se by intelligent people that the thing believed in is anything other than self-delusion.

However, be that as it may, the important issue here is your dysthymia, and I really do recommend that you obtain a copy of Burns' book and follow the course of treatment in it. Most patients - and therapists too - find that CBT really is much more effective than medication for treating this disorder. It only costs a few pounds, and it may well liberate you from your dysthymia as well as the need to resort to superstition.

None333333 said...

Hey, I'll check it out. The reason I'm on meds is mainly some kind of chemical imbalance - w/o it I become very weepy and irritable and fatigued. But I think there are multiple aspects of depression including biochemical as well as one's thought processes and books can help w/the latter. I have this friend w/this 'victim mentality' and I can totally see how she's causing her own misery by the way she thinks. Drives me nuts.