Search Results for mental illness
Some contemporary discourse about so-called mental illness arguably simplifies this complex physiological, psychological, sociological, spiritual and perhaps evolutionary issue.
Undoubtedly, individuals suffer who find themselves significantly different from the cultural norms in which they live. And sometimes this suffering escalates or develops into behavior patterns that their society deems deviant, in the negative sense, and not just different, in the non-judgmental sense.
In addition, the afflicted individuals, themselves, often see it this way. But several questions remain open to interpretation and debate:
- Why are these individuals different?
- Why do they suffer?
- What does it mean?
Spiritually based answers from various world traditions tend to focus on ideas of sin, taking another’s sins, intercession, impurity, spiritual attack (or ‘spiritual warfare’), obsession, possession, evil, ignorance, deception, curses, spiritual pollution, karma and karma transfer.
Sociological perspectives include factors such as cross-cultural norms, economic disparity, gender, race, violence, hypocrisy, corruption and the role of social power in defining so-called mental illness as an illness, per se.
Psychological studies tend to focus on a person’s genetic predisposition (nature) and his or her social conditioning (nurture).
Biological accounts emphasize factors like genetics, physiology, diet, environmental pollution and possible substance abuse.
The Catholic view tends to outline a combination of current scientific and traditionally understood spiritual beliefs. In fact, Catholics try to distinguish among redemptive suffering, avoidable suffering and suffering due to mental illness. Whether or not they’re always successful in getting it right here is a matter open to debate.
The Catholic catechism also defines certain lifestyle choices and their related behaviors as “grave disorders” and sometimes as “perversions,” which may include the concepts of sin, nature, nurture, as well as negative spiritual influences–that is, the invisible influence of Satan. Two good examples of this are homosexuality and masturbation, which for the Vatican are both unacceptable.
In actual practice, which arguably is not always the same as an official teaching, it seems that some priests and Catholic writers lean toward their spiritual tradition by emphasizing the idea of ‘spiritual warfare,’ while other Catholics emphasize a biogenetic or developmental aetiology for so-called mental illness.
Other leading figures combine several approaches, which seems most sensible.
More recently, the importance of the idea of mental injury in contrast to mental illness has arisen. The notion of ‘injury’ seems to connote a greater possibility for full recovery, while the sociologist Erving Goffman says that the tag ‘illness’ stigmatizes individuals. Moreover, Goffman says institutionalized treatments may involve not just a potential cure but, on the down side, a “destruction of life chances.”¹
Futurists and visionaries tend to focus on the interpretive aspect of the phenomenon of mental illness. If someone, for example, really does receive other people’s thoughts but grows up in a culture that doesn’t understand nor accept this ability, they might feel unhappy and perhaps develop of full-fledged mental illness.
But what if, the theory goes, in a thousand years time humanity has evolved to a point where mind-reading is a cultural norm? In this scenario, the person who doesn’t read minds might be seen as mentally ill. And 31C historians would possibly look back at some of today’s so-called mentally ill as tragic pioneers, treading along a thorny path strewn with cultural bias and ignorance.
In short, the idea of mental illness is probably best seen as a complex and ever-changing issue, one that involves nature, nurture, community, ideology and belief.
¹ Erving Goffman, Asylums, New York: Anchor Books, 1961, p. 344.
Search Think Free » Athleticism, Demons, DSM-IV-TR, Foucault (Michel), Illness, Laing (R. D.), Madness, Occam’s razor, Shaman, Suffering, Szasz (Thomas)
- How our genes set us up for mental illness. (psychologytoday.com)
- DJ Jaffe: People with Mental Illness Shunned by Alternatives 2010 Conference in Anaheim (huffingtonpost.com)
- You: Giving voice to coping with mental illness – Tidewater News (news.google.com)
- Mark Becker’s family to participate in mental illness walk (thegazette.com)
- Psychologically Unstable Toys – Mental Illness Stuffed Animals are Great for Young Freudians (GALLERY) (trendhunter.com)
- Bell announces $50M investment in mental health (ctv.ca)
- Explode the mental illness stigma (theglobeandmail.com)
- Book Review: My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness by Sandra Yuen MacKay (seattlepi.com)
- Book Review: My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness by Sandra Yuen MacKay (blogcritics.org)
- You: Stigma for Mental Illness High, Possibly Worsening – PsychCentral.com (news.google.com)
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In her book Illness as Metaphor (1978), Susan Sontag argued, not unlike Michel Foucault, that contemporary ways of approaching and understanding illness are intricately linked to societal norms. Huston Smith, in Beyond the Postmodern Mind (1982), also contends that current views about illness are culture-bound.
Other cultures, particularly those located in different historical periods, would probably regard as abnormal some contemporary beliefs, ideas and practices which many today see as normal.
This kind of argument is often used in relation to mental illness (and an inverse argument is often used with regard to homosexuality and polygamy¹), but Sontag (and Foucault) point out that it also applies to physical illness.
As with mental illness, bias with physical illness is evident in the way the issue is construed—i.e. the apparent causes, the best course of treatment, and what an illness supposedly signifies about a sick person’s moral character.
Related Posts » Aesculapius, Athleticism, Castanada (Carlos), Demons, DSM-IV-TR, Evil, Francis of Assisi (St.), Homeopathy, Jung (Carl Gustav), Koestler (Arthur), Laing (R. D.), Madness, Medicine Wheel, Occam’s razor, Shaman, Soul Loss, Spiritual Attack, Suicide, Szasz (Thomas), Venial Sin
¹ That is, other cultures, particularly those located in different historical periods, would probably regard as normal some contemporary beliefs, ideas and practices which many today see as abnormal. For instance, many in the ancient world believed that illness was caused by spiritual attack. Today, this belief would probably be uncritically dismissed by medical science.
- 38% Of Europeans Are Mentally Ill [Research Study] (inquisitr.com)
- Nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffer mental illness (theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com)
- Study: 60% of Europeans Have Mental Disorders (weeklyworldnews.com)
- U.S. Adult Mental Illness Surveillance Report (cdc.gov)
- Mental Illness Affects Half Of All Americans During Their Lifetime (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffer mental illness – Yahoo! News (underpaidgenius.com)
- Foucault, Oxford bibliographies online (2011) (foucaultnews.wordpress.com)
- Half of Americans Have Mental Health Problems, But Why? (blisstree.com)
- 40% of Europeans Are Mentally Ill (newser.com)
- 40% of Europeans Are Mentally Ill. (reuters.com)
Controlled dreaming (also called conscious or lucid dreaming)¹ is a controversial technique based on shamanic traditions in which one allegedly creates or has a conscious effect on the content of a dream.
This apparently requires a degree of consciousness not readily available to most. Some say they control their dreams simply as a pleasurable or novel activity. Others believe they enter into a Jungian-style collective unconscious in a systematic manner, hoping to influence conditions in the everyday, observable world with which the collective unconscious, they argue, is intimately connected.²
There is some debate as to whether controlled dreaming is just another term for the alleged phenomenon of astral projection. Richard Craze suggest that the two differ, not just conceptually but physiologically.
The evidence, fragmentary as it is, from EEG readings seems to indicate that the two experiences are different. Lucid dreaming is usually accompanied by REM, delta waves and slowed heart beat and respiratory rates identical with normal paradoxical sleep. OOBEs [out of body experiences] are usually accompanied by NREM, an absence of delta waves indicating that the subject is not asleep, an increase in beta waves indicating that the subject is awake, increased pulse and respiratory rates indicating arousal of some sort, and bodily activity. Physiologically the two effects are quite different.³
¹ Lucid dreaming minimally means you are simply aware that you are dreaming. It may or may not involve some degree of control over the dream content.
² Adam DreamHealer claims there’s scientific evidence that “sending healing intentions changes the physiology of someone at a distance.” Although he is not talking about healing others while dreaming, per se, he does postulate the same kind of interconnectedness that would be required for healing at a distance. http://www.dreamhealer.com
³ Richard Craze, Astral Projection, London: Headway – Hodder & Stoughton, 1996, p. 26.
- Meaning of Dreams (legendofanomad.com)
- Did You Know?! 7 Cool Facts About Dreams (jtm71.wordpress.com)
- Take a Trip Outside of Yourself with Astral Projection (jtm71.wordpress.com)
- I Had A Dream… (Omniverse Part 2) (rjnielsen.wordpress.com)
- DVD Ultimate Secrets of Astral Travel (paneandov2012.com)
- Lucid Dreaming and Mental Illness (realitysandwich.com)
- Lucid Dreaming: The Barrier (thesoloist1.wordpress.com)
- Modifying an EEG headset for lucid dreaming (hackaday.com)
- Lucid Dreams (picturesinlivingcolor.wordpress.com)
Dreamtime refers to the Australian aboriginal belief that all animal and human life exists in a complex set of interrelations, ultimately connecting to primal ancestors existing in the Dreamtime, a place beyond or behind the apparent distinctions made in our daily lives.
Generally the idea of dreamtime forwards a threefold map of the
- Human World
- Physical World
- Sacred World
These three realms are said to be closely interconnected, with innumerable divisions and sub-divisions.
The idea of Dreamtime loosely corresponds to the notion of the Q-Continuum as found in the science fiction TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. And some try to explain various types of mental illness through an inadequate biological filtering and coordinating of these three realms in everyday life.¹
¹ See for instance, The Metaphysical Origin of Attention Deficit Disorder by David Almeida. I should note that I haven’t posted this article at Earthpages.org because it seems a little too influenced by the author’s personal beliefs. Still, taken with that caveat, it does offer a perspective seldom found in contemporary psychiatry. Along these lines, the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung once noted that the brain is like a radio receiver—i.e. limiting some ‘frequencies’ of reality while receiving others.
On the World Wide Web:
- Dreamtime is Over, So Why Are You Hitting the Snooze Button? (lamoniquehamilton.com)
- Qantas no dreamtime legend (ft.com)
- Baby Boomers Bamboozled: Social Security Fades Into a Dreamtime Haze (thedailybell.com)
Most religious and mythological traditions attest to the reality of demons. For the most part, demons are regarded as dark, evil spiritual beings whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc on individuals and the world.
In Hinduism, demons appear in the Puranas as Rakshakas (evil beings capable of shape-shifting) and tramp souls. Also in Hinduism the, at one time, god-like asuras of the Vedas devolve into demonic spirit beings which, the mystic Sri Aurobindo says, try to place false and harmful ideas into the minds of impressionable, vulnerable human beings.
In Tibetan Buddhism, immediately after a person dies a priest reads the Tibetan Book of the Dead aloud over the dead body, instructing the departed soul how to avoid different spiritual lights and deceptions that demonic beings use to try to trick the deceased into falling into another earthly incarnation. And Mahayana Buddhism portrays many hells, each presided over by horrific entities
In China demons are thought to be able to inhabit dead bodies and haunt various places, both inside and out.
Demons in China… are capable of animating dead bodies, haunting cemeteries, cross roads, and the homes of relatives. Some live in Hades…others inhabit the air. Many are hungry ghosts, the spirits of those who have had no proper burial or who have no decendants to feed them sacrifices.¹
Traditional Roman Catholicism doesn’t envision the demon in terms of a psychoanalytic, physiological id or Jungian shadow archetype, as is fashionable in some circles today. Instead, traditional Catholicism makes no bones about the belief in demons. The Prayer Against Satan and The Rebellious Angels, published in 1961 by order of H. H. Pope Leo XIII refers to various “spirits of wickedness,” “diabolical legions” and “infernal invaders” that are to be driven away with the help of this solemn prayer.
Contemporary Catholicism, however, is incorporating secular and psychiatric perspectives on demons, but arguably in a clunky manner that seems to conform to ancient and medieval styles of analyzing issues. This shouldn’t be surprising as certain aspects of Catholic theological discourse borrow from Aristotelian and Thomist analytical categories and modes of analysis. And as history suggests, deeply entrenched patterns of thought and practice usually take time to be positively redirected.
In secular society alleged demons are often described as nothing more than a product of the imagination, hallucinations, an arrested or disturbed personality, mutated chromosomes, or the much debated idea of chemical imbalances. Along these lines the Catholic Catechism makes a sharp distinction between “the presence of the Evil One,” on the one hand, and current understandings of mental illness on the other:
The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.²
In contrast to the arguably underdeveloped either/or perspective outlined above, a more productive and responsible approach would intelligently consider different perspectives — physiological, psychological, cultural, transpersonal and spiritual — using as many of the analytical tools that are available to us in the 21st century.
Having said that, we should also keep in mind the very real possibility that God could permit a fundamentally good and ‘well adjusted’ person to be afflicted by evil, as we find, for instance, in the Old Testament Book of Job.
Related Posts » Aliens, Alien Possession Theory, Anathema, Angels, Avesta, Bodhi Tree, Bosch (Hieronymus), Christianity, Discernment, Fallen Angels, Hero, Jinn, Lilith, Madness, Mandala, Michael (St.), Miracles, Occam’s razor, Possession, Psychosis, Rakshakas, Shaman, Spiritual Attack, UFO, Underworld
¹ S. G. F. Brandon, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, 1971, p. 230.
² Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1673.
- Audio of exorcism performed in Germany, 1976 (NoiseMadeMeDoIt.com)
- Woman Says ‘Exorcist’ Priest Abused Her (courthousenews.com)
- The Religious Demon Thrives Off of Your Investment (pamsheppardpublishing.com)
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- Angels and Demons (probings.wordpress.com)
- Faith, not spinning heads, takes center stage in ‘Exorcist’ play – Articles (wilmingtonfavs.com)
- Clergyman Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Woman During Exorcism Rituals (dreamindemon.com)
- Teen Girl Exorcism Squad: Three Arizona Girls Claim to Cast Out Demons (purestrange.wordpress.com)
The DSM-IV-TR (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version IV with Text Revisions) is the most recent manual developed by the American Psychiatric Association, one used by health professionals to classify various psychological disorders, generally referred to as mental illnesses.
The DSM-IV-TR is used around the world, along with two other manuals (The ICD-10 produced by the World Health Organization and The Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders produced by the Chinese Society of Psychiatry).
Each diagnosis is number-coded and depending on the country, may be used by hospitals, clinics and insurance companies.
Some postmodern thinkers and particularly anti-psychiatry groups say that the DSM-IV-TR, along with its counterparts, constructs (as in creates) rather than classifies mental illnesses. For those unfamiliar with this idea, it might take a while to understand just what these thinkers are saying. But in a nutshell, postmodern critiques of the DSM-IV-TR argue that certain illnesses are, in a sense, created by the way that those with social power interpret unusual behaviors. In more common parlance, these thinkers say that those who benefit from the status quo tend to label certain people who behave differently from the social rules and expectations of the day.
These kinds of conceptual and historically based critiques of the DSM-IV-TR and of psychiatry, in general, tend to draw on the work of thinkers like Michel Foucault, Thomas Szaz, R. D. Laing, Ram Dass, David Lukoff, Stanislav Grof, L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology) and others.
Other critiques focus not so much on the issue of the DSM-IV-TR’s analytical validity but on the possibility of negligence by incompetent practitioners.
Debates also exist about the relation between psychiatric classification, on the one hand, and cultural, political and economic realities on the other hand, the most visible example being the link between pharmaceutical companies and the discipline of psychiatry, and a less visible example being political in-fighting among psychiatrists.
While some readily dismiss the DSM-IV-TR as a kind of 21st-century witch hunter’s manual, we’d do well to remember that psychiatry (along with its diagnostic tools) is a developing science.¹ And human beings do live in a social and largely organizational world, and those who differ dramatically often do suffer, and in violent cases, cause others to suffer (or die).
The fact that psychiatry is a developing science is often overlooked or negatively construed by its more forceful critics, while embraced by its supporters. Regardless of one’s philosophical position on this point, sociologists will rightly note that the DSM-IV-TR still enjoys a high degree of societal legitimacy and legal power.
To this Ofer Zur, Ph.D. adds:
The DSM is a political not a scientific document. It pathologizes women, children, and minorities. It defines existentially normal behaviors as mental illnesses. It is a money making endeavor for psychiatry and other mental health professionals. It ‘dares’ to define what is normal and what is abnormal and who should be free or detained against their will…[one may find] a detailed critical article about the DSM at http://www.zurinstitute.com/dsmcritique.html » See in context
¹ As I write this a new DSM V is currently being forged, among much debate and controversy. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSM-5
Extrasensory perception (ESP) is a type of alleged psi phenomena. ESP is sometimes used as an umbrella term for many types of alleged paranormal phenomena but it properly refers to the ideas of telepathy (reading another’s thoughts) and clairvoyance (‘seeing’ without the eyes).
Some Fundamentalist, Protestant and Catholic Christians have a knee-jerk reaction to this idea, saying ESP is the workings of Satan, a delusion or evidence of mental illness. However, in Catholicism some of the more advanced saints claim to have been given similar gifts, usually called the reading of hearts. Indeed, some Catholic mystics claim to know another’s thoughts and/or feel their emotions near or at a distance with no observable cues.
Reading of Hearts. The knowledge of the secret thoughts of others or of their internal state without communication is known as reading of hearts. The certain knowledge of the secret thoughts of others is truly super-natural, since the devil has no access to the spiritual faculties of men and no human being can know the mind of another unless it is in some way communicated. But knowledge of the secrets of another’s heart may be conjectured by the devil and transmitted to a person, or they may be surmised by a deluded individual who takes his conjectures to be supernatural illuminations.¹
From the above it should be clear that Catholics – or, at least, sane Catholics – are cautious when it comes to mysticism. Central to Catholic mysticism is the idea of discernment or “the discernment of spirits.” Discernment is said to be a gift and acquired ability that enables one to differentiate supernatural experiences and abilities that come from God from those that do not.
¹ AUMANN, J. “Mystical Phenomena.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 105-109. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.
- Empath (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- ESP: how it works (holykaw.alltop.com)
- How to identify your extrasensory perception? (using-spiritual-energy.blogspot.com)
- Do You Have ESP Abilities? (towardstomorrow.net)
- The Psychic Life (theosophywatch.com)
- Unverified Results: The History of Scientific Research into ESP [Pseudoscience] (io9.com)
- Politics & NWO – Re: THE ESP OF ESPIONAGE: REMOTE MIND-CONTROL TECHNOLOGIES (disclose.tv)
- Play Dr. Peter Venkman (On Your iPhone) [IPhone] (kotaku.com)
The definition of evil is informed by one’s core beliefs, and different kinds of arguments try to explain its existence.
Some materialists and scientists scoff at the idea of evil as if it were an antiquated legacy from a superstitious past.
Violent criminals are usually described in the news in psychiatric terms. Murderers are often reported as having a mental illness instead of being possessed by the devil. However, sometimes callous murderers are called “monsters” so the idea of evil can creep in to our essentially scientific worldview.
Meanwhile, savage tyrants and warlords are often viewed through a historical or, perhaps, political lens.
Evil in Christian theology
A basic theological distinction exists between natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil includes “acts of God” such as floods, earthquakes and avalanches. Moral evil is a conscious human choice to turn away from God’s will and participate in some action harmful to self and possibly others.
Duns Scotus classified “intrinsic evil” as acts that are inherently evil and accordingly prohibited. But intrinsically evil acts are not evil because they are prohibited.
In Christian theology evil is often seen as a necessary component of God’s plan of salvation. Here one accepts as an article of faith that God permits evil for some greater good, beyond the comprehension of mere mortals (see Isaiah 55:8-9).
A Christian school of thought, begun by Irenaeus and popularized by John Hick, argues that evil is permitted, but not caused, by God. Why, one might ask, would an all-powerful God permit evil? According to the Irenian school, the answer lies in the idea of ‘soul making.’ A soul freely choosing to abstain from evil is of greater value than one that automatically avoids evil like a programmed robot. The free soul apparently better glorifies God than would a sinless automaton.
Although evil may ravage, test and torment good souls living on earth, the true goal of our finite, earthly life is to be made worthy of eternal heavenly life. According to this perspective the evils of the world act as a crucible. Souls not succumbing to but resisting evil are purified and strengthened toward the good. Evil, then, is necessary. It acts as a kind of hammer that pounds out the soul’s impurities.
God permits some evils lest the good things should be obstructed.
Another Christian argument, influenced by Plato‘s idea of the Forms, is given by St. Augustine. Augustine sees evil as a privatio boni—the absence of good. According to this view, since God is good, evil must be where God is not present. Therefore God doesn’t create evil. It’s a choice. But the theological debates get complicated here, and some ask whether Augustine’s theodicy holds up for both natural and moral evil.
Different branches of Christianity hold different views about what happens to evil souls in the afterlife. Some Churches damn sinners eternally. Martin Luther, for instance, believed that some souls are predestined for hell. Meanwhile, some contemporary Christians pray for the liberation of souls in hell while others do not.¹ And the Catholic Purgatory is neither heaven nor hell, but a difficult preparation for heaven.
Evil in non-Christian religions
Evil in Islam is similar to that of Christianity. But for Muslims it is evil to suggest that Christ is one with God (John 10:30). And the prohibitions in the Koran differ from those of the New Testament. Notably, killing is permitted in the Koran in some circumstances (see http://www.yoel.info/koranwarpassages.htm and http://www.islamreview.com/articles/jihadholywarversesinthekoran.shtml), whereas the very thought of killing is denounced in the New Testament. Many branches of Christianity do, however, entertain the idea of a Just War.
In Hinduism a different view of evil is presented. Evil is permitted to maintain a proper balance of sacred heat or power (tapas) within the universe. Aspects of Hinduism speak to the reality of hell for evildoers. But evil in Hinduism is mostly viewed in terms of personal ignorance and spiritual development, making hellish punishments temporary instead of eternal.
According to this perspective, the evil soul reincarnates on earth until it is cleansed of the ignorance that influenced it to commit bad deeds. This differs dramatically from the Catholic view that souls in hell are eternally damned and, strangely enough, would never want to leave. Unlike the Christian, the Hindu aspires to transcend apparently relative ideas about good and evil through an experiential knowledge of universal truth.
Accordingly, the goal of Hinduism differs from both Christianity and Islam. For the Hindu, heaven is a halfway house on the road to ultimate realization. The reincarnating soul may enjoy periodic visits to different heavens but, though the round of rebirth, it eventually transcends all heavens and ultimately achieves the greatest good of the Brahman. A similar but in some ways different view of evil is presented in Taoism.
An interesting but often overlooked question is whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu heavens and hells are identical in character. The celebrated Romanian scholar Mircea Eliade notes that heavens and hells are described differently among world religions. But do they all feel the same? We can’t really know but my guess is NO.
Most cultures around the world at some point in history have seen evil as a cause of mental or physical illness. This view is prevalent in Shamanism. And some religious writers, such as the Catholic, Michael Brown, say they feel the presence of evil almost anywhere.
And on the inferiority of evil as compared to good, W. H. Auden writes in A Certain World:
Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good.
¹ See this excellent discussion: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=329730
- The freewill defense (St. Augustine of Hippo): Part 1 (thatreligiousstudieswebsite.com)
- One’s Good and the Other is Evil (conservativetickler.wordpress.com)
- Why God Won’t Allow Me to Heaven (ichosethebluepill.wordpress.com)
- A Scene from “Doctor Faustus” (alyssajmammano.wordpress.com)
- Medieval Good (ideasandotherstuff.wordpress.com)
- What is evil? (andrewejenkins.wordpress.com)
- Random Musings: the concept of a ‘just war’ (jmatthanbrown.wordpress.com)
- A reading from the Church Fathers: Love the Sinner Hate the Sin (gingerjar2.wordpress.com)
Free Will is the belief that human beings have the ability to make choices. Most philosophers advocating the belief in free will agree that personal freedom has practical limits, but not all agree that the freedom to choose is limited with regard to ethics. That is, some say that we can always choose the good, even though we may not always be able to choose certain activities.
The view that we can always choose the good, however, is complicated. As both Catholic theologians and psychiatrists will say, personal culpability for doing bad things might be lessened by such factors as peer pressure (with teenagers), stress, trauma, emotional immaturity or instability, and so-called mental illness or mental injury. Of course, just what constitutes a bad thing is not always agreed upon among theologians and psychiatrists—masturbation being a good example.¹
J.-P. Sartre called the practical limits of personal freedom ‘freedom in facticity’, meaning that individuals have a limited range of choices, particularly with regard to available opportunities and activities.² But for Sartre individuals can choose to do ethically right or wrong actions, and to give or not give consent to issues involving ethics.
Meanwhile, the Protestant Christian reformer John Calvin believed that some people are predestined for hell and others for heaven.
Who can figure!
Related Posts » Behaviorism
¹ Here’s a good comment: http://www.debatepolitics.com/archives/40072-masturbation-religion-and-psychiatry.html
² When I was at school a common example you’d hear was, “can someone in a wheelchair be a mountain climber?’ Today, however, this example doesn’t really hold up because new attitudes about persons with so-called disabilities are, in many cases, contributing to these people being seen as persons with difference. And in many instances, truly extraordinary things are being achieved by persons different from statistical norms. See, for instance, The Blind Painter (below).
- Gap of Nothingness (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Criticism of Daniel Dennets view of Freedom, Determinism, and the Human Mind (compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com)
- Existentialism is a Humanism (philosophystone.wordpress.com)
- Whole Dude – Whole Philosophy (tarangini.wordpress.com)
- Existentialism (socyberty.com)
The term guardian angel refers to the Catholic belief that we are guided from birth to death by an angel, assigned by God to each particular individual.
Similar ideas are found in the ancient world. In Plato’s Apology of Socrates, Socrates speaks of some kind of otherworldly agency that tells him what not to do but never what to do.
The Old Testament also speaks of angels that intercede for mankind, the most famous example being that of Moses leading the people through the wilderness. Here God tells Moses that an angel will lead him. And many Muslims believe that they are guided by two angels.
In Shamanistic and Amerindian belief, the guardian and guide may be in the form of an animal spirit.
Today, the belief in guardian angels is quite widespread and does not pertain to any single religious group or denomination.
Historically speaking, it’s long been believed that dark or evil angels can confuse people and compel them to sin, even to suicide. No doubt as a product of mankind’s sexist history, women, especially, were thought to be driven to the point of madness by evil spirits posing as loving presences.
Contemporary psychiatry generally downplays or ignores the possibility that evil spirits could influence a person’s behavior. Psychiatry does recognize the phenomenon of “magical thinking” but usually within the interpretive framework of a cognitive error or mental illness.
Many exhibiting so-called magical thinking probably do make all sorts of interpretive errors. But the issue here is the underlying cause. The medical psychiatrist looks to inherited, (apparently) abnormal predispositions and adverse environmental conditions which may, indeed, be present. However, psychiatry tends to overlook the possibility that these contributing factors could be part of a much larger dynamic, a dynamic that might involve evil spiritual influences.
- Angel Talk (theaceofswords.wordpress.com)
- Guardian angels (kitabikida.wordpress.com)
- How to ask Your Angel (theaceofswords.wordpress.com)
- Fools Rush In (davidscommonplacebook.wordpress.com)
- Lost & Found (logisticallychallenged.wordpress.com)
- Puppy Pile of Angels (mightyinspiration.wordpress.com)
- Elgar’s Guardian Angel – London Concert Choir sing Dream of Gerontius (classicalmusic.southbankcentre.co.uk)
- Angels Are Here (freedomperthought.wordpress.com)