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Wed Apr 23, 2014, 02:25 PM

Can the mentally ill hold religious beliefs?

Just a discussion here,every time someone commits a crime in which God told them to kill, or they were possessed, or something like that, their reasoning gets discarded and they get labeled "mentally ill" which takes precedence over any beliefs they might have.

Which leads to my question: Can the mentally ill have religious beliefs? If they bad things they do are a result of their mental illness, then aren't the good things? Is: "well, she did it for god, but she's mentally ill, so doesn't count" a neutral statement whether it's a good or bad act? Can religions claim the good acts of the mentally ill, but disown them when it might make them look bad?

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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Can the mentally ill hold religious beliefs? (Original post)
Lordquinton Apr 2014 OP
Warpy Apr 2014 #1
trotsky Apr 2014 #2
Warpy Apr 2014 #4
AlbertCat Apr 2014 #26
Warpy Apr 2014 #27
LiberalAndProud Apr 2014 #3
libodem Apr 2014 #6
Neoma Apr 2014 #7
libodem Apr 2014 #8
Neoma Apr 2014 #9
libodem Apr 2014 #10
Lordquinton Apr 2014 #13
yellerpup Apr 2014 #5
Heddi Apr 2014 #11
skepticscott Apr 2014 #12
Act_of_Reparation Apr 2014 #24
skepticscott Apr 2014 #25
Act_of_Reparation Apr 2014 #28
trotsky Apr 2014 #14
Iggo Apr 2014 #15
amuse bouche Apr 2014 #16
EvilAL Apr 2014 #17
onager Apr 2014 #18
Manifestor_of_Light Apr 2014 #20
Warren Stupidity Apr 2014 #19
Lordquinton Apr 2014 #22
Warren Stupidity Apr 2014 #29
Lordquinton Apr 2014 #30
uriel1972 Apr 2014 #21
Iggo Apr 2014 #23

Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 02:33 PM

1. Gods, devils, angels and demons

are what the severely ill use to try to make sense of their garbled thinking and sensory overload.

While this produced most of the saints, especially the female saints, in the official litany, these days most of us recognize the symptoms as those of a severe mental illness, not just a belief system.

The mentally ill can and do have religious beliefs. However, they stray from orthodoxy in religion as they stray from reality in their delusions.

Mentally ill people who commit heinous crimes as the end result of that illness need to be hospitalized. The punitive approach just doesn't seem quite fair since no one decides when they wake up some morning that they want to spend their lives in the terror of mental illness.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 03:06 PM

2. And yet plenty of people who are not mentally ill...

also use gods, devils, angels, and demons to make sense of their world.

Same with straying from orthodoxy - the ability to discard and move away from it is not always bad.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 03:30 PM

4. And non religious delusional people

blame the same things on secret spy transmissions coming through their TV sets from the CIA or any other secular organization. Crazy people are often quite ingenious at trying to sort the chatter out. They're just not very effective without drugs.

It used to be that getting messages from god would punch your ticket to a mental hospital faster than anything else. We don't do mental health these days so we elect them to Congress, instead.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #1)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 12:42 PM

26. as they stray from reality in their delusions.

 

That just sounds like religion to me. How is that different?

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #26)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 01:00 PM

27. Most people don't go about their days in a delusional state

and compartmentalize it away from everyday life to pull out on Sunday or during personal disasters.

This is why I don't medicalize them. 90%+ of their time is spent as rational beings. The loopy stuff that was dinned into their heads when they were children is tucked aside to be used in emergencies or around like minded people socially or in church.

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 03:07 PM

3. Yes.

I am going to ask that you delete this OP. There are members of this board who suffer from mental illness. To in any way insinuate that they can neither believe or not believe because of the illness is ludicrous and hurtful. I get your point in regard to conversations we've had in other places on this board. Still, this is so offensive to some members of our community, I wish you'd find another way phrase this discussion.

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Response to LiberalAndProud (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 04:36 PM

6. Help me understand

How this is disrespectful to the mentally ill? It doesn't take a stand on either side and is merely asking for opinions to engage in a conversation.

Maybe I'm missing something offensive that I am too blind to see?

I think it is a worth while topic. I've worked in State Institutions and in private hospitals as well. I've met some very mentally ill persons of both persuasions.

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Response to libodem (Reply #6)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 04:53 PM

7. I would say it's because the term mentally ill is very broad.

For one, it looks like you're essentially insinuating that all people with a mental illness are not in control of their illness. That all people with mental illnesses typically commits crime due to their illness, even though people who are mentally ill are more likely to be the victim of a crime. Also, most of the crimes aren't usually from the mental illness itself, but from drug abuse from self-medicating. You're also talking about the mentally ill as if they might not be individual people with their own religious beliefs.

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Response to Neoma (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 05:14 PM

8. I'm certainly not saying people are not individuals

I'm just wondering why we couldn't talk about someone like Andrea Yates the woman who drowned her children during post partum depression. Her voices had religious overtones as I recall.

Neoma, I'm surprised you would read in all that because I wondered what is wrong with discussing any diagnosis from bi polar to psychosis that might or might not have religious overtones.

My very dear friend in Michigan for instance is bipolar with psychotic features hates religion and has a very intellectual take on atheism. So does my friend's son, very smart, hates religion, very OCD, very high anxiety, very depressed.

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Response to libodem (Reply #8)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 05:19 PM

9. I think you simply phrased it badly.

I'm not jumping down your throat as if you meant all that in how I phrased it. But that I could gleam that from reading the OP, should be taken into consideration.

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Response to Neoma (Reply #9)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 05:43 PM

10. I wonder if anyone has tried to send it to a jury?

We have decent community standards here. If someone is hurt by this discussion I don't want to participate. I have my own mental issues.

I do think that crime, punishment, treatment and putting people in jail instead of hospital whether or not they have religious overtones in their delusional ideation is a hot topic.


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Response to LiberalAndProud (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 02:18 AM

13. My worst crime: poor phraseing

I understand and agree with you that it can be taken in an offensive manner, but I would then follow up with why take offence when it is directly brought up like this, when no one peeps about it when it's heavily implied?

It is a broad and almost meaningless term, everyone has something that can qualify them as mentally ill, and the fear of being labeled such leads to many who need help to not seek it. It's a scape goat for the right wing (look at the NRA pushing mental examinations for gun ownership) and it's almost as bad of a label as Atheist.

I find the best way to eliminate the stigma of such terms is to use them, talk about it like they're people and not some savage beast to be locked away.

There was also a paragraph about ableism that I cut because I didn't want to distract from the point, and didn't want religinists to feel like they're just being called up a made up name. Theism is rife with ableism, only the worth can walk again, their beliefs don't count they are mentally ill, even the inverse with putting the handicapped who do good on a pedestal, using autistic children to get likes and so on (big on using the handicapped to get more likes for god).

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 03:32 PM

5. If my family is an example...

oh, hell yes!

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 07:35 PM

11. I think a better title would be "why don't we allow the mentally ill to hold religious beliefs like

other people?"

I get what Lordquinton is saying....when there is a news story of someone who drowns their child because they believe that a demon lives in their child, or when they do something horrible because they believe God spoke to them and told them to do a horrible thing, there are a very distinct group of people, who tend to frequent the Religion forum, who steadfastly argue that these acts are SOLELY related to mental illness and have NO bearing on religious beliefs.

So I think a better phrasing of the OP would be "Why don't we allow people with mental illness to hold religious beliefs like we allow other people to?" Because when THEY act the way THEY believe their religion dictates they act, we are told "No no no, not religion, but sickness. Not belief, but biology. Not Christ, but chemistry."

It seems as if people who have not been diagnosed or labeled as 'mentally ill' are allowed to manifest their religious beliefs in a wide variety of ways, even if they are beliefs that harm the people themselves or others.

People who have not been diagnosed or labeled as "mentally ill" are allowed to speak openly about having a deep and meaningful relationship with God, and having a relationship that involves direct conversation from person to diety.

People who have not been diagnosed or labeled as "mentally ill" are allowed to be directed to do things that they say they were either told outright by God (or those acting/speaking on his behalf), or directed to do things that they believed were okay based on their interpretation of scripture.

But when someone has been diagnosed or labeled as 'Mentally ill,' they're not allowed to do any of these things. Their religiosity is called into question and often outright denied as even existing. Any relationship they feel they have with God is called "delusional," any communication they have with God (or those acting/speaking on his behalf) are called "auditory hallucinations," and any directives they take because of their religion are called 'command hallucinations"

To me, it is like when people try to keep individuals with Downs Syndrome from entering romantic/sexual relationships with other individuals with Downs SYndrome. I have family members with DS, and I"ve heard everything from "it isn't really love," "they dont' know what love is," "it's not healthy,' etc etc.

I make this comparison because individuals with DS have their feelings, emotions, needs denied because of a clinical diagnosis. Much like people who have been diagnosed or labeled as "mentally ill," and who have their religious experiences, beliefs, and relationship with God diminished because of a clinical diagnosis.

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Response to Heddi (Reply #11)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 09:11 PM

12. Religion involves a great deal of behavior

 

that if not cloaked by belief in "god", would be regarded without qualification as mental illness.

"I saw a vision of Napoleon Bonaparte in my toast at breakfast, and he told me to sell my house and all my property and go to China to teach the people there military strategy, and that he would guide me as I did it." = Mentally Ill

Substitute "god" for "Napoleon Bonaparte" and "the Gospel" for "military strategy" = perfectly normal, and the psychology policy in Religion will scold you if you say otherwise.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #12)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 09:04 AM

24. From a clinical perspective, it is more about social norms than belief in god...

The field of psychopathology concerns itself with individual, not group, behavior. It isn't that Orthodox Jews believe circumcision to be a commandment from God that allows them to get away with chopping the tips off their kids' dicks, but that chopping the tips off their kids' dicks is normative for that community.

If there was just one guy running around, removing foreskins with his teeth, he'd be diagnosed stark raving mad, even if he thought God told him to do it.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #24)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 12:14 PM

25. Well, to me, it would be the teeth part

 

that would push it over the cliff of crazy.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #25)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 01:38 PM

28. The frightening part is that's essentially par for the course in Orthodox communities...

Mohels are expected to remove the severed foreskin with their mouths.

But psychologists would argue that's a societal problem, not a mental health issue. With my years of study, I'd have to agree with them there.

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Response to Heddi (Reply #11)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 07:05 AM

14. Great post, Heddi.

Of course any attempt at discussion of this issue also leads to shrieking about "Why are you calling all believers mentally ill?!?!" and similar nonsense.

Clearly a sore spot for many, and not one they want to devote any serious thought to. Why add shades of gray to their wonderful black-and-white world?

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Response to Heddi (Reply #11)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 11:05 AM

15. Stop making sense.

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Thu Apr 24, 2014, 03:09 PM

16. What if Religion

is a mental illness? It sure does attract a lot of sickos

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Fri Apr 25, 2014, 07:33 PM

17. Sure they can,

I see it all the time.
I wonder if religious belief, in any way, causes mental illness. I haven't seen any proof of that. So probably not.
It's just too easy to say that someone is crazy when they say god told them to do it.
"Not my religion/denomination, he must be mentally ill to do things like that."

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Sat Apr 26, 2014, 12:05 AM

18. MIRACLE!!!

This is just unbelievable!

A thread where people disagree and nobody starts hurling passive-aggressive insults, gets personally nasty or tells anyone else what they REALLY meant, in 10,000 words or more.

People disagreeing with each other like grown-ass women and men! Amazing! Is it a trend?

YES! I went to That Other Group and saw the same thing happening! It was wonderful! The lion lay down with the lamb. The believer lay down with the atheist, without complaining about getting fleas. It was a new day in human understanding on DU, and as I heard a mighty chorus of voices starting to sing Kumbaya...

I woke up.

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Response to onager (Reply #18)

Sun Apr 27, 2014, 12:40 AM

20. Yeah, it's never the religious beliefs causing the problem, just the mental illness.....

Puhleeze........I can't stand it.

They are so touchy about their beliefs, they are completely off limits to asking questions.

They're so easily offended, it just doesn't matter what I say, I'll piss somebody off there. I stay out of there. And I DO watch my language and they still complain that I'm offending them.

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Sat Apr 26, 2014, 07:33 PM

19. Well, that becomes a very sticky issue when the distinction between psychotic religious delusion

 

and a religious belief is, er "murky" to say the least. The mentally ill obviously do have religious beliefs. When they act on those beliefs in inappropriate ways we are told here that through a miracle akin to transubstantiation, those beliefs are now delusions.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #19)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 01:08 AM

22. I have found that faith and belief

Even religion needs to be clearly defined every discussion, if not every sentance, lest a vast misunderstanding takes place and the religionist gets their feelings hurt.

I would say that religion isn't a mental illness, you can choose your religion, but you can't choose to not be ill.

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Response to Lordquinton (Reply #22)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 01:55 PM

29. I'm not convinced "you choose your religion" is accurate for ~90% of the population.

 

But I agree that having religious beliefs is not in and of itself a mental illness, but in part because these beliefs are popular. Uncommon religious beliefs can be and frequently are considered symptoms of mental illness. The DSM just goes in circles regarding the distinction between a psychotic delusion and a deeply held religious belief, and the gyrations change with each new version. Our friends might think the distinction is obvious, but it really isn't.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #29)

Wed Apr 30, 2014, 01:44 AM

30. So very true

Belief is very much relative. Some people will tell you belief is sacred, unless it's not something they feel is worth it, then it's mocking people with real belief.

It's a peer pressure thing, you loose a lot social standing if you're not religious, except in an exclusively atheist community. I think that the protection of belief is attractive to people with bad intentions, for many reasons, from cover of being a "good person" to being forgiven by the community because "Satan made you do it" or were possessed, to believing that you will be forgiven in death.

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Sun Apr 27, 2014, 03:47 AM

21. Well I did... nt

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Response to Lordquinton (Original post)

Tue Apr 29, 2014, 08:19 AM

23. Yes.

Absolutely.

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