In psychology and its more medically legitimate sister, psychiatry, neurosis is a less serious mental disorder or condition than psychosis. Examples of neuroses would be phobias, obsessions, anxiety, depression, hysteria and hypochondria.
According to these disciplines, the neurotic hasn’t lost his or her grip on reality but experiences anxiety to a degree that can have a negative effect on judgment.
Psychosis, on the other hand, is generally regarded as a non-violent or violent ‘break with reality’ where normal judgment is severely impaired or non-existent.
However, some sociologists say notions of reality and normalcy are culture-bound, while not a few philosophers continue to debate the nature of both reality and normalcy (e.g. normalcy as an ethical good).
In addition, theologians along with spiritual and religious lay persons often include their particular interpretation of God and spirituality as factors in conceptualizing the real and the normal.
In short, the idea of neurosis is, perhaps, not without validity but also open to critical debate on various interconnected fronts.
Search Think Free » Alien Possession Theory (APT), Compensation, Defense Mechanism, Madness, Obsession
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In the positive sense, solitude refers to a peaceful experience that comes from choosing to be alone for some uninterrupted time period.
Western culture tends to champion individuality but, ironically, also tends to marginalize and even stigmatize individuals who prefer their own company.
It’s almost as if one is ‘weird’ if one doesn’t fit in with the crowd. At least, this is often the implicit or explicit message we hear in today’s society.
By way of contrast, saints and mystics from various world traditions say that, as one progresses in a contemplative path toward God, direct interaction with others becomes increasingly tiresome.
For many contemplatives superficial talk is a distraction from the source of true happiness, which they say is God.
Contemplatives may engage in everyday talk; they may even be quite gregarious if they believe such actions are in accord with God’s will. But socializing is rarely done for its own sake. And when contemplatives do socialize it’s ideally in a state of spiritual detachment–i.e. being mindful that God is first and God’s creation is second, which in Hinduism is the ideal of karma-yoga.
Put differently, solitude is a way for some spiritually-minded persons to recharge their spiritual batteries. Providing one’s withdrawal isn’t based on an unresolved psychological complex, solitude should be not merely be valued but treasured.
In the negative sense, however, some perhaps neurotically play the social role of the solitary saint or hero. They may deceive themselves and others into supposing they are more spiritually developed than they really are. They may also try to manipulate, exploit or cheat those gullible enough to be fooled.
We’ve all met these kinds of frauds somewhere along the line. Upon close inspection their words and actions rarely meet up. Indeed, it seems reasonable to distinguish healthy solitude from a neurotic or cultic type of seclusion that could possibly lead to insanity, sociopathy and violence.
An example of positive solitude would be the American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86), who withdrew from society at age 23, preferring solitude to the company of others. Her outstanding verse of over 1000 poems has had a lasting and profound influence on modern literature.
Another example would be the highly influential American Catholic monk and writer Thomas Merton. Merton gained permission from his monastic order to live the simple life of a hermit. His efforts to promote interfaith dialogue have become a model for many Catholics and non-Christians following in his footsteps. Sadly, Merton met an untimely death in Bangkok while on tour visiting several Asian religious leaders in 1968.
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