A Predisposition for Delusion

A Predisposition for Delusion
By Derek Cantrell
Do all people have a predisposition to believe in delusions? And what exactly constitutes a delusion? A delusion is defined as a belief held by an individual, despite knowledge of facts that contradict said belief. Most people relate delusions to those diagnosed with schizophrenia, who hopelessly attempt to navigate a life filled with reality, but infused with purple dragons, and fifty foot petunias. While schizophrenics often qualify as delusional, are they the only ones? What about the influence that advertisements have on the mass public? How many times have you purchased a product with the expectation of bliss, only to find that the purchase caused but a brief satisfaction, followed by buyer’s remorse? If you’re impervious to such things, know that it happens enough to be referred to, by the previous title.
Google the name Edward Bernays and you’ll find just how much current society is infiltrated and manipulated by various false stimuli, such as ads claiming that the purchase of their product, will be of benefit as opposed to the purchase of other brands, or no purchase at all. While these ads may make you feel tingly inside when first viewed they usually offer no conclusive scientific data to back their claims. Actually, there are countless ads claiming miraculous results, to the contrary of what is known through scientific data. While it may be a little excessive to compare schizophrenic delusion with propaganda, we must nevertheless realize that most of us have a predisposition to believe in false stimuli, even if the claims directly contradict what can be proven by scientific method.
While buyer’s remorse may have its negative effects on the population, there are much more destructive delusions, responsible for atrocities from segregation to genocide. The current DSM, which is the manual used by psychiatry, to diagnose psychological disorders, labels religious belief as a theme of delusion. The worship of supernatural deities and/ or supernatural phenomena, has been practiced since the beginning of any known recorded history. While primitive religions practiced anything from human sacrifice, to Sun worship; in order for religious belief to have existed for so long, there must be a method to the madness, right?
What constitutes a religion? One of the primary qualifying aspects, is that there is worship of supernatural deities. The term supernatural simply means that it’s outside of the realm of proof by current scientific method. If one practices theism, there is every reason to accept this as the worship of the supernatural, and while such practices may seem odd to those of us who do not practice theism, there seems to be no harm in the belief in something that science has yet to explain.
Using scientific knowledge, practice, or method, is currently the most efficient, effective way our societies have found, to promote humanity and thus the progress of our species. Science and common religions, particularly here in the United States, have butted heads on several topics and events, but we’ll get into that later.
I would first like to refer to a Buddhist practice, and although Buddhism does not qualify as a religion, it is a system of belief. Buddhists practice depriving themselves of food and sometimes sleep, in order to reach a mental state they call Enlightenment. It is said to be a state of clarity and understanding of reality. This is a very plausible belief, as depriving yourself of food and sleep, will result in low levels of glucose in your bloodstream, also known as low blood/ glucose levels. The same effect was achieved during the beginning of the last century, by using a medication called insulin, in order to induce severely low blood/ glucose levels. This treatment resulted in patients undergoing an insulin induced coma. Scientists referred to this treatment as insulin shock treatment, or ICT. ICT was used to treat schizophrenics, as post treatment, the patients were temporarily rid of their delusions.
In ancient times, people would hunt and gather food. If someone strayed from the hunt or gather for an extended period of time, searching for or entertaining false stimuli, he/she would eventually experience low blood/ glucose levels which would relinquish the entertainment of false stimuli, in order to promote and soon demand a state of clarity and understanding of reality, thus demanding that the individual continue the hunt or gathering, in order to obtain vital nutrients. People of ancient times lived in objective thought in order to find the most efficient ways to sustain their life, just as other animals, but with their developed pre-frontal cortex, they could imagine and ponder and predict complex situations. This part of the brain provided the necessary anomalies of objective behaviors, needed to promote our species to the advanced position we have in the animal kingdom, today. Our imagination has played a key role in promoting our species, and is allowed to reign over the mind, as long as we’re nourished. While we can recognize the importance of both objective and subjective thinking, we must realize that subjective thinking is primarily efficient in imaginative scenarios, and vastly unaffected by the statistical likelihood of being accurate or true. Imagination is promoted by emotion, and emotion is often times, not supported by logic, or reality.
This proposes an interesting hypothesis: Since the invention of society, through agriculture and raising of livestock, humanity has been allowed to spend extended, and sometimes indefinite time, under the power of our subjective thought. The extended or permanent period of time in subjective behavior, is no longer threatened by lack of vital nutrients, thus the imaginative or anomaly of logical behavior is never challenged. This allows the individual to remain in a world of imaginative, or delusional behavior. This has allowed delusions such as religious deities, to persist in the life of the individual without challenge. Since societies allow groups of individuals to exist in a subjective and imaginative world without challenge, the concept of mass delusions and multi-generational delusions, such as religion, often manifest as a product of our unchallenged imagination, combined with our innate need to be social, or pack animals.
While I find no problem with supernatural deity worship, I am appalled by our society’s freedom to believe in and promote deities’ histories and phenomenon that can be proven by scientific method, to be as impossible as many schizophrenic delusions. I understand the predisposition to fall victim to such atrocities, but I do find psychological fault in those who believe in things such as Noah’s Ark, Seven hundred year, human lifespans, talking snakes, etc.
We would not expect a large group of schizophrenics to exist harmoniously, even if communication molded their delusions to be similar. We wouldn’t expect the group to be an efficient promoter of humanity. We would expect constant disputes and at times, acts of violence or war. We would also promote proven treatments, and practice great caution and concern, should we encounter a diagnosed schizophrenic who is not under treatment.
I’m sure that religions here in America, would insist on backing its existence by quoting the United States Constitution’s “Freedom of Religion." While our American society does its best to adhere to the Constitution, I would like to point out that the Constitution also gives us “The Right to Bear Arms," however as a society, we’ve discovered that allowing convicted felons to own AK-47s, is counter-productive to society, and thus outlawed.
The science of psychology is relatively new. It has been diligent in providing proof through scientific method, in order to be recognized as a legitimate science. Science has a history of butting heads with common religious beliefs, who continue to promote and accept an impossible and inhumane history. Science has promoted the questioning of our environment, while common religion demands your acceptance of its fairytales.
Science insists on proven data to uphold any current knowledge of events to be accepted as modern science. Failure to produce proven data results failure to meet the criteria. Current pseudo-sciences may be believed by those who are ignorant to the lack of sufficient data, but the pseudo-science remains inaccurate and/ or untrue, regardless of the number of believers. For example: Two thousand years ago, the vast majority of the human population, believed the world to be flat. The Earth was as round as it is today. We can currently prove that the world is, and always was round using scientific method and findings from geologists, astrophysicists and a host of other modern sciences, including photographs taken by N.A.S.A.
If religion once served mankind, that time has passed. We as a species face real threats, from disease, to famine, and various other forces of mass extinction. We as a species, must demand the dismantling of current agendas who seek to control our world, in lieu of explaining it.
I am currently researching differences between wolves and domesticated dogs. If my hypothesis is correct, then it’s possible that domesticated dogs such as Chihuahuas, will have much higher critical thinking skills, than their wolf ancestors. As the wolf was domesticated throughout generations, it was fed and sheltered regularly. If my hypothesis is correct, I will find higher critical thinking skills, or more developed imaginations, in domesticated dogs that have been fed and sheltered for generations. As the dogs became more domesticated, they had less threat of death. In time their primitive prefrontal cortexes would be allowed to wander and fathom, unchallenged.
If anyone has knowledge on prefrontal cortex evolution or critical thinking skills in dogs or wolves, please let me know. I would also appreciate information on whether or not, my experiment has merit or faults, or if it can or cannot be proven. Thank you for your time and consideration.