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Is Religious Fundamentalism A Mental Disorder?

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Is Religious Fundamentalism A Mental Disorder? 
Author: PsychoAgnostic 
Posted: 02/18/2010 06:53 AM 
 
I just came across an interesting article that argues for the inclusion of religious fundamentalism (or Cosmic Narcissism) within the new DSM, which is the manual used by psychologists to diagnose mental illnesses.

The author makes some valid points. If you compare Narcissistic Personality Disorder as defined by the current DSM to religious zealots, there seems to be plenty of overlap.

I am sold. Let me know what you think. It should make for some good debate, that's for sure.

Here is the link: http://www.inebriateddiscourse.com/2009/06/cosmic-narcissism-new-psychological.html


Re: Is Religious Fundamentalism A Mental Disorder? 
Author: bernee51 
Posted: 02/18/2010 07:03 AM 
 








PsychoAgnostic wrote:
I just came across an interesting article that argues for the inclusion of religious fundamentalism (or Cosmic Narcissism) within the new DSM, which is the manual used by psychologists to diagnose mental illnesses.

The author makes some valid points. If you compare Narcissistic Personality Disorder as defined by the current DSM to religious zealots, there seems to be plenty of overlap.

I am sold. Let me know what you think. It should make for some good debate, that's for sure.

Here is the link: http://www.inebriateddiscourse.com/2009/06/cosmic-narcissism-new-psychological.html



Woohoo I'm ahead of the times...I raised this very question in this post in 2007


 
Author: PsychoAgnostic 
Posted: 02/18/2010 08:01 AM 
 
Yes apparently you were ahead of the game a bit there. I think this paper does add quite a bit to the discussion that took place back then though. Many of the questions raised by the religious folk are explicitly addressed here.

I hope people actually take the time to read it. I fear, however, that a good deal of Christians may be too offended to read it in it's entirety.

I could never understand believing in something so much (especially something that cannot actually be proven) that you could not tolerate conflicting ideas. I am a proud agnostic fundamentalist, and as such, I take pains not to believe in anything too rigidly.


Re: Is Religious Fundamentalism A Mental Disorder? 
Author: Flashpoint 
Posted: 02/18/2010 10:07 AM 
 








PsychoAgnostic wrote:
I just came across an interesting article that argues for the inclusion of religious fundamentalism (or Cosmic Narcissism) within the new DSM, which is the manual used by psychologists to diagnose mental illnesses.

The author makes some valid points. If you compare Narcissistic Personality Disorder as defined by the current DSM to religious zealots, there seems to be plenty of overlap.

I am sold. Let me know what you think. It should make for some good debate, that's for sure.

Here is the link: http://www.inebriateddiscourse.com/2009/06/cosmic-narcissism-new-psychological.html



The way I see it is that any person who is totally convinced in the existence of something supernatural - something which is filled with contradictions and indiscrepancies - without any objective and verifiable evidence should be considered mentally ill.

If I pranced around all day telling people that I was working for a race of aliens to help save the human species from its own immorality I'd be sent to an institution - the same should apply to those professing fundamentalist belief in any religion.(Scientology springs vividly to mind.)


 
Author: JoeyKnothead 
Posted: 02/18/2010 10:15 AM 
 
Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance?
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love?
3. Believes that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status?
4. Requires excessive admiration?
5. Has a sense of entitlement?
6. Is interpersonally exploitative?
7. Lacks empathy?
8. Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her?
9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes?

That's either religious fundamentalists, me, or both.


From the link here, and quote mining for brevity:








Them folks wrote:

When a cosmic narcissist is doing charity work for someone ‘in need,’ for example, they are implicitly putting themselves above those who they claim to be helping in a selfless manner. This type of ‘charity’ is often guided by the cosmic narcissist’s unconscious motivation to inflate his/her sense of self-importance. In such cases, charity simply masquerades as ego boosting.


Here I'm in conflict. As presented, there's no evidence to really support this, where "often" is used as a percentage. I've seen nothing in the post to support this position, even if I may agree. I'm reticent to concur when no data is present.









Them folks wrote:

Such individuals also seem motivated to behave in ways that demonstrate their own (human) ideal love for god, despite holding the aforementioned contradictory belief that humans are incapable of such love. >with a following caveat<


I don't see this as any more than realizing one's fallible nature, and attempting to overcome. I would consider it if it were demonstrated to be in detriment to one's life. Where folks try to show love for others, I contend that is a good thing. If such display causes one to forgo other valuable aspects of life, then I might think about the "overkill" aspect and whether such is a disorder.









Them folks wrote:

Consequently, such actions as: questioning god, growing angry with him, or simply not glorifying him in commonly prescribed ways, can all cause the cosmic narcissist considerable stress due to the guilt that often accompanies their continual failure to demonstrate a capacity for perfect love.


When referenced as "perfect love", I can concede the point. However, seeking an ideal is not such a bad thing unless it does invoke these stressors.









Them folks wrote:

Perhaps the most commonly witnessed trait of the cosmic narcissist is the belief that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status (criteria 3).


I'd put that as number one. This forum is full of examples for this behavior. It's one thing to think "I'm special", I'd contend that's even healthy. It's a whole 'nother deal to dissassociate from entire groups merely because they are "beneath me".









Them folks wrote:

This sense of superiority harbored by cosmic narcissists often leads them to require excessive admiration (criteria 4) from others, particularly from those in different religious groups. When such admiration from the ‘inferior’ other(s) is not received, the cosmic narcissist’s extreme sense of entitlement (criteria 5) is left ungratified. When other groups (again, particularly rival religious groups) fail to demonstrate sufficient admiration for the cosmic narcissist’s special status, and thus neglect his right to special entitlements, an urge to retaliate often results.


"Why do you hate God?"

I don't hate 'im, I don't even think He exists.









Them folks wrote:

In most cases, when a cosmic narcissist is attempting to recruit an outsider into his religious organization, there is a hint of exploitation that takes place. In the most extreme forms, this can be witnessed in certain cult recruitment strategies, where members prey on specific types of vulnerable individuals that they know can be easily manipulated (i.e., brainwashed).


Children. I would contend this is one reason so many creationists attempt to muck with K-12 schools.









Them folks wrote:

I have personally heard many devout Christians divulge their secret wish to annihilate the entire Arab world, so as to permanently remove the scourge of Islam from our planet once and for all. This is a typical statement made by many cosmic narcissists, particularly in the U.S.


History would support this.









Them folks wrote:

The psychological understanding of narcissistic dynamics teaches us that all narcissistic traits and behaviors are, at the core, defenses against deeply embedded feelings of inferiority. Nonetheless, these defenses are often very effective at keeping unpleasant emotions at bay, which helps explain how people with NPD and Cosmic Narcissism can often cruise along through life relatively unscathed while maintaining their inflated sense of superiority and entitlement.


Agreed. This is evidenced by the often damning language regarding humanity as a whole, and then relishing in one's salvation.









Them folks wrote:

If this same Buddhist were to offend the cosmic narcissist by questioning some aspect of his faith, he may then defensively conclude that the Buddhist is being antagonistic simply because he is envious of his special relationship with Christ.


Here I look to the specific words one uses when debating. Only "demons" or Satan himself would dare question God.

With some minor points of contention, I'd say the site presents quite a sound argument.


 
Author: Sir Rhetor 
Posted: 02/18/2010 10:41 AM 
 
The problem with pushing to get NPD spread onto religious folks is that it is about as likely as getting psychologists to classify it as NPD is as likely as calling "acting hood" a disorder. Sure, it may cause harmful behaviors and attitudes and even criminal acts, but it also effects an entire population group, which, by the way, is not in need of more funds.


Is religious fundamentalism a mental disorder? 
Author: Anonymous 
Posted: 02/18/2010 02:24 PM 
 
I think it depends on the individual's personality, not on his beliefs.

Here are the criteria from the link:

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status.
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement
6. is interpersonally exploitative
7. lacks empathy
8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

I have known any number of conservative Christians, including some who might be called "fundamentalists," who exhibited none of these characteristics - and who were, in fact, very loving, compassionate and humble people. That observation rather knocks this whole thesis into a cocked hat. It's clearly not belief that's in play with people who fit these criteria, but their personalities.

This sort of thing is peddlng stereotype as reality. Sure, there are some fundamentalists who might fit this description; but not nearly all do, and that's the definition of a stereotype. I've called this sort of thing "bigotry" before, and I think it applies here, and obviously so. Dependence on stereotypes and prejudices, as opposed to recognizing differences among individuals in a group, is rather characteristic of bigots, is it not?

On the other hand: I have debated a number of militant atheists on this forum who fit every single one of these criteria - and some of them were banned for it. Shall we declare militant atheism a psychological disorder, too?

The person I remember who most closely fit this description was dedicated, above all things, to mathematics. I don't know what his religion was, or if he had one. He was the living reincarnation of Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island, and he was the most pompous, arrogant, self-centered, and egotistical human I have ever encountered. Perhaps mathematicians ought to be included, too; an anecdote or a stereotype seems to be sufficient.

It occurs to me that these traits are virtually a profile of many politicians, as well. Hmmm. Perhaps anyone who seeks political office should also be declared mentally disordered. And how about media stars? Prominent athletes and entertainers? Gee, there are a LOT of narcissists out there, aren't there?

Stereotyping believers isn't scientific, even when it's presented with a scientific mask on. This is ridiculous. It's the moral and legal equivalent of the Soviet policy of adjudging people who dissented from State propaganda to be insane.

I don't see that this linked to a serious academic article or paper, anyway; "Inebriated Discourse" doesn't sound like a peer-reviewed journal to me.


Re: Is religious fundamentalism a mental disorder? 
Author: McCulloch 
Posted: 02/18/2010 02:57 PM 
 
I think that one of the points being made is that there is a correlation between the criteria and the beliefs and practices of certain religious groups.

  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
    It may be a matter of interpretation, but I would think that the belief that the Creator of the Universe cares about your individual problems and feelings and whether you win or lose a football game would qualify as a grandiose sense of self-importance.

  2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    I think that this may be typified by the Prosperity gospel of Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn.

  3. believes that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status.
    Something that is evident in those who believe that they are a peculiar people, set apart by God for holiness.

  4. is interpersonally exploitative
    I can think of nothing more exploitive than modern televangelism.

  5. lacks empathy
    Like the God of those who believe in everlasting torment for those who do not believe correctly.


Like CNorman, I do believe that this kind of analysis could become bigoted. However, it would be wrong to deny that these kind of people exist and that what they do may be indicative of a mental disorder.


 
Author: Cathar1950 
Posted: 02/18/2010 03:55 PM 
 
I can see their point but it is much like corporations are sociopaths, what should we do about it but educate and make laws against exploitaion?


Re: Is religious fundamentalism a mental disorder? 
Author: Anonymous 
Posted: 02/18/2010 04:26 PM 
 








McCulloch wrote:
I think that one of the points being made is that there is a correlation between the criteria and the beliefs and practices of certain religious groups.

  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
    It may be a matter of interpretation, but I would think that the belief that the Creator of the Universe cares about your individual problems and feelings and whether you win or lose a football game would qualify as a grandiose sense of self-importance.




Enh, not if you believe everybody else in the stadium has the same deal. I would guess that many, if not most, fundamentalists live in communities where they are the majority. Indeed, it's where they are in the majority that they have to be worried about. Small-town school boards, all that.









Quote:


  • is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    I think that this may be typified by the Prosperity gospel of Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn.

  • believes that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status.
    Something that is evident in those who believe that they are a peculiar people, set apart by God for holiness.

  • is interpersonally exploitative
    I can think of nothing more exploitive than modern televangelism.

  • lacks empathy
    Like the God of those who believe in everlasting torment for those who do not believe correctly.

    Like CNorman, I do believe that this kind of analysis could become bigoted. However, it would be wrong to deny that these kind of people exist and that what they do may be indicative of a mental disorder.



  • No argument with the rest; my point is only that the personalities of those involved, not their beliefs, are the determinants here. That's why I argued with your first point - and NONE of the others are taught nor demanded by the Christian faith. Most Christian theologians would probably describe them as directly opposed to Christian teachings and with good reason. The "Prosperity Gospel," in particular, was identified by many mainstream Christian theologians as a betrayal of Christian teaching as long ago as my own seminary days, the mid-70s. Arrogance, exploitation, a failure to empathize and all the rest are very clearly failures of the individual, not the faith.

    Bear in mind that I am no Christian, and have many issues with that religion. But I don't think that Christians, even fundamentalist Christians, are ipso facto mentally defective.

    Yes, there are such people. Some of them are Christians; very, very many aren't, and very, very many Christians don't remotely fit this description. Ergo, the religious-belief connection is a non sequitur. You can find narcissists anywhere.

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