Religion is not a disease

Actually, there are psychologists who would disagree with you. Marlene Winell, Valerie Tarico, and Darrel Ray are three. There are more, but I don’t know their names nor have I spoken with them, but I have heard about them. It was Marlene Winell who coined the term RTS- Religious Trauma Syndrome.

and lastly

I can give more links, videos, etc if needed. Religious Trauma Syndrome is similar to PTSD, IMO, except it comes from religious indoctrination.

I would say that religion is not the disease, the syndrome coming from withdrawing from it.

The drug causes the disease but is not the disease. And, as i said for me, religion is a drug.

On the side, i found that:

“Religion is important, but not more than family, not more than friendship, and not more than loyalty. There are more and more people for whom religion replaces morality. They tell you about the lawful and the unlawful, the pure and the impure. I would like us to focus more on what is honest and what is decent. Because they have a religion, they believe they are exempt from having morality.” Amin Maalouf

Not sure it deserves a specific topic

1 Like

I think we are talking about two different things. Religion, that is, the religions that have names and practice their deceptions on people definitely cause trauma. Even the article I linked speaks of religion “capturing” the brain.

What I mean by my title is that even if we cured all of that and controlled all the forces that lead to religious exploitation, there is still something adaptive, something innate, about religion. Maybe a better to say it is, “belief is not a disease”. Belief is adaptive, it lets us get on with life while someone else figures out why things are how they are. The farmer doesn’t need to know why the sun is good for his crops, it just is.

The trauma comes with “belief in belief”. The belief that everyone else has to believe like you. The belief in the answer of why the sun comes up, and the belief that we have to sing songs about it, or bang a gong as the sun rises each day. Like in the movie Smallfoot.

Bing AI helped me find the clip

(27) Small Foot Gong Part 2 - YouTube

It’s like when I play the game Rummikube, which involves picking 14 tiles without looking at the start of the game. Then you can play sets of 3 and runs. If someone has a lot of them at the beginning, they say, “you’re going to think I cheated”, or “we didn’t mix up the tiles very well”. Neither of those need be true to get a good “hand”. Or dice, if I picked up 6 dice and rolled all sixes on the first roll, your eyes would pop out of your head. But, people have been rolling six dice for a long time, the odds of rolling 6-sixes are the same as any other combination of the dice, (if you identify each die separately), the odds of all the rolls ever in the world don’t change. It was just a local surprise for my roll. We assign meaning to 6-sixes, and call it winning.

No, the syndrome is not coming from withdrawal. It comes from the abuse suffered in said religious sect. However, by definition, syndrome is a term related to disease. On top of it all, there is Darrel Ray with his book called “The God Virus”, which again, points to religion being a transmissible disease.

For many, it is not. It is transmitted from parents and grandparents to child. It can also be transmitted to others not related. However, the various neuro-stimuli, found in religious services, can be like a drug, because, as the word states, there is external stimuli which stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain that give the feelings of awe and wonder. One craves that feeling, which can also make is appear as being like a drug, but eventually, the illness comes due to being addicted to those feelings, much like drug addiction. I don’t disagree with you that for some it’s like a drug, but others, it’s like a disease.

For some groups, such as the Black community, it is a time for socializing. Without the Church, they don’t socialize as much with others and lose touch with their community.

I think we are saying mostly the same things, but the words do not quite fit the application. Thomas Jefferson thought religion as he knew it would fade away, that the miracles of the Bible would be seen as unreal, and that the Unitarian “religion” would be the only one. He was wrong. That error in thinking continued into the modern era, when sociologists predicted the same thing.

It’s kind of a problem of defining what mental health is. Lots of people live with anxiety and depression. Others have fantasies about why the world is the way it is that are completely wrong, but they able to hold regular jobs. Unless you ask them about their project to create a perpetual motion machine, you would never know. Otherwise, their thoughts do comport with what’s real. Religion in it’s worst forms, exploits the human condition that we can’t know with 100% certainty what is real.

Yuval Harari had a funny idea on a podcast. He asked, what if there was a planet with LSD in the atmosphere, so everyone there was living in the moment and noticing how beautiful tiny details are and enjoying rain or ice, and smells no matter what they were? They would have to create a drug to experience the feeling of frustration. They would think it was very weird that we get annoyed by perfectly common events.

[quote=“lausten, post:19, topic:10436”]
I don’t see how “brain in a vat” fits this though. It’s not the input, or the misperception of it, it’s the thoughts about it, and the memes created by those thoughts.

But it is the thoughts (memes) that rely on memory. If the memory does not receive any contrary information, the existing memory prevails. If it is false so is the belief.
Anil Seth addresses this with " we create our reality from the inside out as much as from the outside in".

[quote=“mriana, post:17, topic:10436”]
Anything which ails the mind and/or body is a disease and one really cannot have one without the other. If the mind ails, so does the body and vice versa.

In general I agree, but there are exceptions. You can be unconscious (in coma)and your body is perfectly maintained by the subconscious homeostatic part of the brain.

Coma - Illnesses & conditions - NHS inform

A coma usually only lasts a few weeks, during which time the person may start to gradually wake up and gain consciousness, or progress into a different state of unconsciousness called a vegetative state or minimally conscious state.May 10, 2023

(Coma - Illnesses & conditions | NHS inform

I don’t think you understand what religious trauma syndrome is. The trauma come from the religion being imposed on you or religion being used to enable abuse, but it doesn’t come from the individual’s belief, because it is a belief system imposed on one.

It’s kind of a problem of defining what mental health is.

You’re talking to someone who majored in psychology. I may have a different definition of mental health then the general public. I do have a text book (many text books) knowledge of mental health.

I’m not sure anyone read the links I posted. It is not a withdrawal. It is the trauma of what was drilled into and the fear that comes with it. Especially abusive, toxic religion, which includes the mainline ones.

From the third link:

Symptoms of Religious Trauma Syndrome:

Cognitive: Confusion, poor critical thinking ability, negative beliefs about self-ability & self-worth, black & white thinking, perfectionism, difficulty with decision-making

• Emotional: Depression, anxiety, anger, grief, loneliness, difficulty with pleasure, loss of meaning

• Social: Loss of social network, family rupture, social awkwardness, sexual difficulty, behind schedule on developmental tasks

• Cultural: Unfamiliarity with secular world; “fish out of water” feelings, difficulty belonging, information gaps (e.g. evolution, modern art, music)

Causes of Religious Trauma Syndrome:

Authoritarianism coupled with toxic theology which is received and reinforced at church, school, and home results in:

Suppression of normal child development – cognitive, social, emotional, moral stages are arrested

Damage to normal thinking and feeling abilities -information is limited and controlled; dysfunctional beliefs taught; independent thinking condemned; feelings condemned

External locus of control – knowledge is revealed, not discovered; hierarchy of authority enforced; self not a reliable or good source

Physical and sexual abuse – patriarchal power; unhealthy sexual views; punishment used as for discipline

Cycle of Abuse

It continues on the page.

You seem to know more about that than me. I’m saying we’re talking about different things. I agree that religious trauma is real, very real.

It is remarkable that the brain can function perfectly, yet produce “flawed thoughts”.

Does that qualify as a disease (dis-ease) or a state of mind?

I’ve worked with Marlene and Valerie. I’ve even met Darrel Ray in person. I’ve learned a lot about it in last several years. If we’re talking about different things, then I don’t know what you’re talking about, because I see religion very much as an illness brought on by others, society, community. Religion is a means to control people and this control causes a lot of harm, including severe damage to mental health, but you can’t just pull them out of their chosen cult and expect them to get better either.

I agree that religion can be used for control but I don’t think it’s always used that way. That’s the different thing

Every Xian sect, as well as Muslim sect, and even Judaism control their flock. These flocks have fear if they do not follow what is imposed upon them, whether it’s fear of hell, not wearing a hijab, or some other ideology.

Just found out about this book, might split the difference. In the summary, it says, “These people aren’t crazy. They’re not delusional.” Then at the end, “explain how and why Evangelicals embrace the utterly insane things they do.”

It’s a short book and only $4.99 on Kindle. I’m at the second principle and it’s not surprising. This is a book about people who go to church almost every day, in the Evangelical world. It can be translated to a handbook for understanding all conspiracy theorists, so there is some redeeming value. The big flaw is that there is some sort of training manual. He doesn’t produce one, he doesn’t even bother quoting someone. There isn’t one. There are principles that we all know, like capturing a young mind, and you will have a follower for life. We have inspiring stories of a moral person mentoring a young person, but we don’t call that indoctrination, so these principles are not a universal condemnation of religion.

What we have is believers. Believers get together and reinforce the power of their beliefs and talk about how important it is to pass them on. There is no back room in the Vatican, or a church basement, or anywhere that has those same people charting out their control strategies. Anything they are doing looks very similar to a social worker plotting out a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy plan for a kid that is “out of control”. The difference is the CBT work is science based and leads to behavior that helps society flourish. Telling someone to love Jesus is not science and does not automatically help society. Religion only becomes dysfunctional when the believing is augmented with “if you love Jesus, then you must do X”. It’s all a matter of what X is.

His last chapter is a solution of sorts, clever on the one hand, but nothing new. He quotes the Bible. Many of them are about repeating rumors, don’t be a hater, knowledge is power, don’t lie, stuff like that. Then he gives an example of an experience with fact checking a conspiracy theorist.

I had a similar experience. It was a mild mannered, guitar playing guy who had some thoughts on astrology and whatever, but was mostly harmless. Then he heard that we might not have gone to the moon. I said that was dumb, which was a really bad place to start, and we never recovered. He’s now a full blown, “there are no facts”, theorist.

His response to my facts was that “he hadn’t heard that”, but he wouldn’t follow them, instead he would return to the celebrity whose kid had autism or whatever and ask me why I thought I should question that person. At first, he would say things like, “I just thought it was interesting”, or, “I just liked an article, it doesn’t mean I believe it.” But, it didn’t take long before he believed dangerous things, like school shootings were faked, and he defended the people who were presenting their lies about them. He distanced himself from Alex Jones, but that’s where the amateur YouTubers get their playbook.

He had lost his trust in facts. Facts came from authorities, and the mainstream authorities could no longer be trusted, so he had adopted this new set of people with 10,000 followers on YouTube. In the middle of one argument, he literally said, “but this is all over the internet, we should listen to it.” As Grace Slick said, “When logic and proportion Have fallen sloppy dead And the White Knight is talking backwards… And the Red Queen’s off with her head”

Shane, the author, is not wrong, the book is a primer. If you use it to gain understanding, it can be useful. If you read it, think you know how to diagnose someone, and tell them how they are wrong and sick and brainwashed, then you missed the point.

I don’t have an alternative, but I know there are better people working on it. It gets very difficult when reason is employed in an unreasonable conclusion. There can be a lot of facts and logic with just a small flaw that tips the scales to something useless. Listen to a “progressive” sermon and you’ll hear a bunch of great stuff, then at the end, “we need more jesus.”

There are great reasons to distrust our government, the news, teachers, your boss, your mother, whatever. My parents taught me to think for myself, then hung on for a few years while I did that and almost killed myself. Luckily, I didn’t, and found Plato and Nietzsche, and worked my way to a semi-moral existence. Not everyone has the privileges I have so they can do that.