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On Being Sane in Insane Places


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By Never Going Back

 

In college I was required to study a book by Lauren Slater called "Opening Skinner's Box." One of the chapters called, "On Being Sane in Insane Places," discusses a psychiatric experiment performed by Dr. David Rosenhan and his friends and colleagues from around the country in the early 1970's. If I remember correctly, the experiment was to see just how well psychiatrists could distinguish between the truly insane and those merely posing as such. A "patient" would admit him or herself into an asylum and claim to be hearing a "thud." This "thud" was the only odd thing about them. There were no other distinguishing characteristics that would give them away in their everyday life. Without a hitch, each of the eight patients were deemed crazy despite the fact that in every other way, they would be considered healthy and sane.

 

I've been thinking a lot lately about how this experiment compares to my sixteen year relationship with Jesus and the "saints." These otherwise normal people were labeled insane simply for hearing a "thud," and yet Christians and religious people can claim to hear the voice of God, angels, demons and the like and are considered healthy individuals by friends, families and the professional community.

 

What? Are we serious?

 

A Christian can writhe on the floor, babble in "tongues," pray to the ceiling and swear they are getting a response, even if the answer is "No," take a book chock full of fiction, parables and proverbs and claim it to be the very breathed word of God, be martyred for their dead man-god, obsess their whole life over original sin, convert heathen around the world with the threat of a fiery hell, and we continue to allow them to walk around in the free world?

 

When mental patients claim to hear voices, they are deemed nuts and given the appropriate dosage of psychotropic drugs. When a Christian claims to hear the voice of God, the community holds him up to be a prophet. When a mental patient begins babbling, we laugh him off and assign his odd behavior to his condition. When a Christian babbles in an "unknown tongue," we praise God for him being "baptized in the Holy Spirit." When a mental patient claims to see visions, we lock him up, but a Christian thinks it completely logical for Jacob to have wrestled with an angel and to have seen a ladder reaching all the way up to Heaven with angels ascending and descending.

 

Stepping into church near the end of my coming out experience was very uncomfortable for me. I felt like one of Rosenhan's experimental patients hoping to not be detected for what I really was while I was there: a fake. Standing there and mouthing the words to the age-old hymns, watching the display of greed by the pastors and gullibility by the parishioners, cringing at the sight of grown men and women shaking their tambourines and writhing on the floor, foaming at the mouths and crying hysterically, I couldn't help but to feel sane in an insane place. Luckily, for me, the gig is up, but just like with Rosenhan's patients, I was never detected, I gave myself up.

 

It's a relief to be free of that asylum now, but I wonder how many others are trapped behind the doors of that mental institution begging to get out and just how many fakes go undiscovered every week.

 

I am healthy now. I am sane. The doctors are always trying to tell me otherwise, but I know better. The "thud" is gone, and in its place is the voice or rationality. Like John Nash, I have learned to discern the difference between reality and fiction and am living a fairly functional and productive life, this side of the barbed wire.

 

Thank "God."

 

To monitor comments posted to this topic, use comment-ful.gif.

 

To monitor comments posted to this topic, use comment-ful.gif.

 

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2007/05...ane-places.html

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Reminds me of the last time I went to church with a friend, and realizing the same thing. There weren't any talking in tongues or anything, but I became very acutely aware I was standing in a sea of delusion.

 

And it was really sad. There were "Testimonials" before the sermon started, and these two people got up and told their storie. There was one woman who was battling breast cancer, and a guy with a bad heart. Both were facing terrible surgerys and pain ahead of them. Both kept saying "God has a plan for me, God has a plan for me."

 

I felt really bad for them and while I don't blame them at all for wanting some hope from somewhere, even if it's supernatural support, I couldn't help thinking, "Yes, He's trying to KILL you."

 

Thud.

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Nothing so drastic happened last time I was in church. No speaking in tongues and the like because this church doesn't do those things. But there was the metaphorical THUD.

 

Are these people for real? is a question that went through my mind. They are upper middle class, well-educated AND well-clothed, not to mention well-fed and well-housed. Trying to calm a guilty conscience for having so much when so many have so little or nothing. THUD.

 

People with career lives so full they can barely fit church into their schedules but they paste on the obligated happy look and put an enthusiastic spring to their step when you know they must be so fatigued they're nearly dropping. It's the second service of the morning and the same people who made the same announcements ninety minutes earlier look like they're still rarin' to go. I don't get it. THUD.

 

Announcements for volunteer projects mixed in with sports announcements and charity work....trying, trying, trying to give back something to a world that has given them so much. Never quite measuring up...always feeling guilty. THUD.

 

I guess they are for real so far as they are in touch with their real feelings. Methinks the thud is very near the surface. THUD.

 

Maybe that's why I just don't feel like going back. I went three times. I love the music and the people are nice (if you don't get too close or dig too deep). But so are the people on the street and super market. Buying food and other honest life necessities has a different "ring" to it than the superficial church faces.

 

So what if the person ahead of me has a cart laden with delecatessen and prime meat cuts and all I have is plain white bread and bologne? It's all food and nobody's pretending it isn't. *looks around--I hear no thud*

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"It's the second service of the morning and the same people who made the same announcements ninety minutes earlier look like they're still rarin' to go. I don't get"

 

Coke... and I don't mean Pepsi MAX caffeinated phosphoric acid solution style coke either...

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I'm just sayin'... remember it fuelled the boom of the early 1980s...

 

I think the 'spirit' involved owes more to the Shamen of South America than the mystics for the Near Eastern Deserts....

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Somehow this topic reminds me of what happened when John Douglas (a famous FBI profiler) and a colleague interviewed the serial killer David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam". Pretty early on, Berkowitz trotted out his favourite "The devil in the dog made me do it" story. He got two very stony looks and was told in no uncertain terms to "Cut the bullshit and give us the not-for-tourists version", which he promptly did because he realised that his interviewers had researched his case very thoroughly and were not in the least gullible.

 

Similarly the British serial killer John George Haigh got very short shrift from a British jury in the late 1940's when he tried it on with his "Vampire Killer" act. Mind you, he hadn't helped his case very much by asking an officer when he was first arrested, "What are the chances of getting into Broadmoor?" (Criminal lunatic asylum) ...

 

When you put the christian church under the same harsh skeptical spotlight, their act ought to get no better reception, but for some reason it doesn't. It would seem that some delusions remain very popular.

Casey

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Guest Florida

I think Christians use church in place of drugs. They go to get a "fix". Most Christians that I know drink enough caffiene to wake the dead also.

 

I also think that most mental illness is caused by the teachings of the church today. I know some Christians who were once brilliant people before they succumbed to the "faith" in those teachings. How can having a two faced God make your mind not crack in some way?

 

Caffiene makes me evil. I drank some yesterday. :pureevil:

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I also think that most mental illness is caused by the teachings of the church today. I know some Christians who were once brilliant people before they succumbed to the "faith" in those teachings. How can having a two faced God make your mind not crack in some way?

 

Caffiene makes me evil. I drank some yesterday. :pureevil:

 

 

I lost one of my best childhood friends to Christianity and it is exactly as if he became mentally ill. It is just unfucking believable to see someone you once knew so well and came of age with, just turn into a total loon. I do not exist to him now becasue he failed to convert me.

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I lost one of my best childhood friends to Christianity and it is exactly as if he became mentally ill. It is just unfucking believable to see someone you once knew so well and came of age with, just turn into a total loon. I do not exist to him now becasue he failed to convert me.

I think that is sad.

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I think Christians use church in place of drugs. They go to get a "fix".

 

Yup. At least the morontheists. That's a constant I find everywhere where I compare morontheism with the christianity I know (from my past in mainstream German Lutheran church). Here, sermons may be boring 95 % of the time, but the attendants are supposed to evaluate them intellectually. Tuning in to TBN via realplayer, I keep finding that the whole service is organized to make attendants shut down their brains and operate solely on emotions. Yes they get a (hysterical) high from church services. And like every drug, addiction eventually leads to breakdown of some kind.

 

How can having a two faced God make your mind not crack in some way?

 

Interesting question, ain't it? Are there any statistics examining the question "are mental disorders more likely to be found in morontheists than the average joe?"? :scratch:

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I lost one of my best childhood friends to Christianity and it is exactly as if he became mentally ill. It is just unfucking believable to see someone you once knew so well and came of age with, just turn into a total loon. I do not exist to him now becasue he failed to convert me.

 

I went through similar things for a while with a girl I got to know when I entered the St. John's ambulance... she was cute, smart, shared some of my then-hobbies... and was a mental wreck (learned that some three weeks after meeting her the first time). There was a time when, due to a misunderstanding of something I said, she thought I'm a total arsehole and wouldn't even stay in the same room with me. It was emotional hell. :banghead:

 

(Before anyone asks, no I wasn't in love with her - or at best that was more like brotherly love...)

 

But eventually she got over it, and while we didn't meet for years (she's moved home to quite far away), at least we were on friendly terms again.

 

Now try that with a jebus cultist. :(

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Guest Florida
How can having a two faced God make your mind not crack in some way?

Interesting question, ain't it? Are there any statistics examining the question "are mental disorders more likely to be found in morontheists than the average joe?"? :scratch:

I haven't heard of any research on the matter, but according to how many nutty Christians I know that are on "prescription" drugs for mental disorders, I can kind of form my own opinion. I've thought about "alzheimers disease" itself being a result of severe judgment. If you sacrifice yourself to the god of emotions, sooner or later you're going to have to sacrifice your mind to keep believing it... because emotions lie.

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How can having a two faced God make your mind not crack in some way?

Interesting question, ain't it? Are there any statistics examining the question "are mental disorders more likely to be found in morontheists than the average joe?"? :scratch:

I haven't heard of any research on the matter, but according to how many nutty Christians I know that are on "prescription" drugs for mental disorders, I can kind of form my own opinion. I've thought about "alzheimers disease" itself being a result of severe judgment. If you sacrifice yourself to the god of emotions, sooner or later you're going to have to sacrifice your mind to keep believing it... because emotions lie.

 

My father was long excommunicated from the church and was largely against organised religion in all it's forms, from his family history through his experiences in Yugoslavia... His descent into dementia wasn't fuelled by any religious impulse... it is, alas, the curse of my line.

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Guest Florida
How can having a two faced God make your mind not crack in some way?

Interesting question, ain't it? Are there any statistics examining the question "are mental disorders more likely to be found in morontheists than the average joe?"? :scratch:

I haven't heard of any research on the matter, but according to how many nutty Christians I know that are on "prescription" drugs for mental disorders, I can kind of form my own opinion. I've thought about "alzheimers disease" itself being a result of severe judgment. If you sacrifice yourself to the god of emotions, sooner or later you're going to have to sacrifice your mind to keep believing it... because emotions lie.

 

My father was long excommunicated from the church and was largely against organised religion in all it's forms, from his family history through his experiences in Yugoslavia... His descent into dementia wasn't fuelled by any religious impulse... it is, alas, the curse of my line.

Being "largely" against anything has its drawbacks too... most in being largely unable to do anything about it. Could be that the curse is only futility.

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If you asked about it he wasn't in favour... otherwise... he wasn't interested. He lost interest after smacking a Priest for upsetting my mother. He wasn't much of a brooder about things he couldn't change... His major interests were playing the harmonica, singing, and hard landscaping. Long as he had some bread, some fruit, and the occasional sweet, he was pretty content. He was also the most dangerous man I know... :)

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He was also the most dangerous man I know... :)

It's the dangerous woman that should be feared... ;)

All women are dangerous... it's part of their allure...

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I haven't heard of any research on the matter, but according to how many nutty Christians I know that are on "prescription" drugs for mental disorders, I can kind of form my own opinion. I've thought about "alzheimers disease" itself being a result of severe judgment. If you sacrifice yourself to the god of emotions, sooner or later you're going to have to sacrifice your mind to keep believing it... because emotions lie.

You know, not to be a bitch or anything... but did you ever stop, step back and consider that maybe so many Christians are doped up on drugs for mental disorders because... there are so many Christians in the States?

 

When you have a group as big as theirs, of course you're going to get a disproportionate amount of them doing anything, compared to others. I mean, using that sort of logic, video games are popular because of Christanity (because so many of the players and creators are, you guessed it.... Christians) That logic is also why that ever-popular "More Christians in prison than atheists" card is stupid and irrelevant. Of course there are more Christians in prison than atheists. It's not because Christians are more predisposed to criminal activity than atheists are, it's because Christians outnumber atheists EVERYWHERE. Not just in prison. So when you look at their sheer numbers, of course you're going to find a greater percentage of Christian criminals than, say, atheist or Bhuddist or pagan criminals. Law of fuckin' Averages, there.

 

You "haven't heard any research on the matter", you say? Well, pardon me if I say "Big, fat DUHHH." Researchers who actually know what they're talking about already have a very good idea of what causes most mental disorders, and it's not Christianity, no matter what some silly layman wants to think.

 

What you "think" you know about mental disorders is wrong. Doesn't mean you don't have a right to your opinion, but that doesn't mean it's right, either.

 

You see, I'm admittedly a head case. I probably should be on medication (if I could afford it, anyway). But I'm a head case because of chemical imbalances in my brain, NOT because I was once a Christian. My brain doesn't produce enough of some chemicals, and produces too much of others. It fires wrong and causes me to obssess over stupid things and blow them grossly out of proportion (hypochondriasis, yay! I can still think relatively coherently, but damn if I don't think that I'm dying from every disease under the sun, and the more exotic the better! e.e)

 

It doesn't do these things because I used to pray to Yahweh. It does these things because these things run in the family, and I was unlucky enough to inherit the malfunctioning genes instead of the normal ones. Religion didn't do it, and doesn't do it. Religion can certainly contribute to it, and can exacerbate an existing problem by convincing people that they don't need "evil secular medical help" because they're just hearing angels or demons and just need God's guidance... But it doesn't cause said problem, regardless of how fervently you pray and wish it to so that you can have another stupid little red herring to pin to Christianity.

 

Fucking seriously. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to bash Christianity. But claiming that it causes mental illness, when just a little research proves otherwise, is grasping at straws. Don't we make fun of Christians for doing just that?

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Fucking seriously. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to bash Christianity. But claiming that it causes mental illness, when just a little research proves otherwise, is grasping at straws. Don't we make fun of Christians for doing just that?

 

I was speaking about my experience with Christians... but you don't have to be a Christian to sacrifice yourself to a god of emotions, sweety. Emotions can play havok with your judgments and make you jump to all kinds of conclusions that might be way off.

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I'd refer the interested to this thread...

 

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=16504

 

This shows a lot of mental issues, due to the great crowd controller 'guilt'...

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All women are dangerous... it's part of their allure...

 

What do you mean? Or, more precisely, what's the matter with YOU--women are not alluring. Not in my experience. Apparently it's not an inherent characteristic. If for some odd reason men think women are alluring, perhaps it has more to do with their (men's) own hormones and weak wills when it comes to thought-control?

 

It has never seemed right to me that women should be punished or restricted or in any way be made to pay because of these deficiencies in men.

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