Christ/Messiah Delusions Revisited: Toward an Anthropological Definition of Religious Delusions

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Certain themes in the delusions of psychotics have puzzled clini- cians and anthropologists of this secular age because of the fre- quency of their occurrence. Patients who are indifferent to reli- gion while in a nondelusional state identify with heroes of the religious or mythical pantheon, even though they may have been raised in homes without religion or literary culture. Among these types of delusions, Christ, or the Messiah, is a frequent figure of identification. The frequency of religious-mythical themes in the delusions of patients has remained remarkably constant over half a century. Kranz (1955) found (from German-speaking sources) that the frequency of religious-mythical delusions between 1886 and 1946 ranged from 43 percent to 45 percent. The issue of the Christ delusion as a specific form of reli- gious-mythical identification touches upon other psychopatho- logical schemes and points to some of their limitations. Since at least the time of Bleuler, it is no longer possible to evade the challenge of understanding delusions with the argument that they are nothing more than the accidental products of deranged minds. We also have learned the therapeutic value of under- standing delusional communications as a way to improve verbal interactions with patients who have only this enigmatic vehicle of self-expression at their disposal. The striking similarity of the imagery and ideology of these religious-mythical delusions to those of some charismatic sects and their apocalyptic visions is a further theoretical challenge. Even if we are reluctant to extend the realm of psychopathology

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... W 1955 roku Heinrich Kranz, przeszukując źródła niemieckojęzyczne, odkrył, że pomiędzy 1886 a 1946 rokiem urojenia o treści religijno-mitologicznej pojawiały się u około 45% pacjentów z psychozą [2]. Michael Vardy i Barbara Kaplan uważają, że obecnie szacunki te pozostają na zbliżonym poziomie [3]. Z nowszych badań wynika, że największe rozpowszechnienie tego rodzaju fenomenów wśród pacjentów hospitalizowanych wynosi 36% w Stanach Zjednoczonych, najmniejsze zaś 6% w Pakistanie, przy czym w kraju tym odnotowuje się znaczną przewagę urojeń wielkościowych z identyfikacją z Bogiem, Jezusem czy Mahometem [4]. ...
... Autor, psychiatra i psychoanalityk, powołując się na pracę o przechodzeniu od seksualności do symbolizmu w rysunkach i wypowiedziach osób 2 "Domniemywam, że różnice pomiędzy urojeniem a wiarą polegają na tym, że to pierwsze utrzymuje się bez żadnych wątpliwości, przekonania religijne zaś nie są od nich wolne lub przynajmniej wiążą się z rozumieniem, że inni mogą mieć wątpliwości co do tego, w co samemu się wierzy" [7, s. 2]. 3 Othmer i Othmer [9] piszą ogólnie, że urojenia wielkościowe w schizofrenii mają tendencję do wyrażania mesjanistycznych charakterystyk: bycia wybranym, odrodzonym, nagrodzonym za swoje osiągnięcia, uznanym za przewodnika ludzkości oraz tym, który prawi kazania, wzbudza nadzieję, leczy. 4 Pięć lat wcześniej bardziej znany uczeń Freuda w swojej analizie mitu herosa zawarł motyw Mesjasza i wskazał na podobieństwo między urojeniami a mitami, oparte na "neurotycznym romansie rodzinnym" (die Familienromane der Neurotiker) -tajemniczych narodzinach i "podwójnych" rodzicach (ziemskich i niebiańskich). ...
... Dwie ostatnie fazy przynoszą ratunek przed (j)ego rozpuszczeniem 12 . To właśnie na tych etapach pojawiają się kompleks Mesjasza oraz związane z nim: deifikacja, odwracalna śmierć, nowa genealogia etc. 13 Od psychoanalizy do antropologii Vardy i Kaplan, mimo wytrenowania w psychoanalizie, wykraczają poza teorie psychodynamiczne [3]. Kategoria "wielkościowej nadkompensacji", często bezrefleksyjnie przypisywana JD, nie ma według nich wystarczającego waloru eksplikacyjnego. ...
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Identification with Christ among psychiatric patients is an example of a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. As a delusion it includes a misidentification (change of identity) in the layer of content and, usually, grandiosity and/or paranoid traits in the formal aspect. What is more, it fits in the category of religious delusions, which are perhaps the most controversial type of delusions and as such require special sensitivity as well as knowledge beyond psychology or psychiatry. The aim of the article is to show the phenomenon of identification with Christ among psychiatric patients, taking into account different ways of its explaining and understanding. Papers relating to the topic, both theoretical considerations and case studies, found in the EBSCO database were analyzed. Searching for the articles the following key words were used: identity, identification, delusion, Jesus/Christ/Messiah, psychosis, schizophrenia. The analysis included all (actually not numerous) articles except for the one linked to cognitive approach which did not significantly contribute to the issue. Given the multiplicity of ways of explaining and understanding the experience of identification with the figure of the Messiah, it seems to be a mistake to hold both objectivist and one-sided, based on one theory, attitude towards it. Such an experience should be recognized in the context of the history of patient’s life and the all possible mechanisms leading to its ccurrence, as well as the meanings hidden beneath the symptom, should be take into account. It is also important to be well-oriented in the system of religious beliefs and spiritual needs of the patient.
Mysticism has long featured in discussions among psychoanalysts and mental health practitioners, anthropologists and scholars of religion. In this paper I analyse the life and visions of a twentieth century mystic in the Catholic Mediterranean. Through this case study I seek to compare the psychoanalytic and to a lesser extent the psychiatric discussions of ‘hallucinations’ with the theological explanations of visions. Via a Lacanian discussion of the case of the first Maltese saint I argue that there are interesting points of convergence between the two. An adequate understanding of the cultural context within which visions are articulated as meaningful experiences is essential to our understanding and clinical treatment of people presenting symptoms associated with religious content. A psychoanalytical understanding can serve to enrich and enliven theological discussions on madness as a path to sanctity.
La problématique apocalyptique n’est pas sans interpeller le champ de la santé mentale. Les idéologies dans de nombreuses sectes s’appuient sur des images et des interprétations bibliques mais aussi des représentations post-modernes faisant référence aux extraterrestres et aux OVNI. Leurs leaders charismatiques présentent aussi des profils psychologiques problématiques qui peuvent les entraîner, tout comme leurs adeptes, à des conduites extrêmes. Les inquiétudes liées aux innovations technologiques comme les armes nucléaires, la détérioration de l’environnement de même que les annonces médiatiques peuvent entrainer des réactions anxiogènes qui affectent le bien-être des personnes. Les délires incluant des références apocalyptiques et de fin de monde se retrouvent aussi chez des patients souffrant de troubles psychotiques. Ces enjeux sont discutés en s’appuyant sur des exemples historiques et contemporains.
The authors have analyzed the religious figures Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and St. Paul from a behavioral, neurologic, and neuropsychiatric perspective to determine whether new insights can be achieved about the nature of their revelations. Analysis reveals that these individuals had experiences that resemble those now defined as psychotic symptoms, suggesting that their experiences may have been manifestations of primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorders. The rationale for this proposal is discussed in each case with a differential diagnosis. Limitations inherent to a retrospective diagnostic examination are assessed. Social models of psychopathology and group dynamics are proposed as explanations for how followers were attracted and new belief systems emerged and were perpetuated. The authors suggest a new DSM diagnostic subcategory as a way to distinguish this type of psychiatric presentation. These findings support the possibility that persons with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic symptoms have had a monumental influence on the shaping of Western civilization. It is hoped that these findings will translate into increased compassion and understanding for persons living with mental illness.
The book primarily seeks to introduce problems of developmental psychology. The new developmental psychology (not identical with American "genetic psychology") is primarily a comparative science. Developmental psychology is characterized not by a special field but by a special method, namely, the grouping of psychological facts from the standpoint of development. Besides the special developmental psychologies, there is a general developmental psychology, which seeks to compare the special individual developmental psychologies and establish general developmental laws. Developmental phenomena are characterized by advancing differentiations, which are nevertheless centralizations of psychical phenomena and functions. This general development is exhibited in contrast to primitive and higher processes ( Typen). The perceptions of children, of primitive people, and some psychopaths, e.g., are undifferentiated in so far as affect and observation form a complex relationship. Through this arises the so-called " physiognomische" world of perceptions of primitives. Primitive perceptions are often synaesthetic, since the sense-fields are not yet sharply separated from each other, and therefore are also often eidetic. The thought-life of primitive people, the structure of childish thinking in making judgments and conclusions, is considered comparable to that of psychopathic individuals. A magical way of viewing things is developed in primitive thought-life. The last chapter attempts to set forth the genesis of personality. There become evident certain developmental points of personality originating from a complex and clear structure of an integrated and differentiated type of primitive instincts in phylogeny as well as ontogeny. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Consists of 3 essays establishing the theoretical character of the archetypes and collective unconscious, followed by 6 papers describing specific archetypes. In a final section their relation to individuation—with abundant references to, and illustrations of, mandalas—is described. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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