Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Neuroscientist Says Religious Fundamentalism Could Be Treated As A Mental Illness

Religion As Mind Control
Oxford University researcher and author specializing in neuroscience, Kathleen Taylor,  has suggested that one day religious fundamentalism may be treated as a curable mental illness.

Taylor, who describes herself as a "science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics," made the suggestion this week at a presentation on brain research at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales.

At the festival Taylor said in response to a question about the future of neuroscience, "One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treatedSomeone who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology -- we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance. In many ways it could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage."

The author went on to say she wasn't just referring to the "obvious candidates like radical Islam," but also meant such beliefs as the idea that beating children is acceptable.

You can listen to Turner's entire presentation at the Hay Literary Festival: HERE

In 2006 Taylor wrote a book about mind control called Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, which explored the science behind the persuasive tactics of such groups as religious cults.

In discussing the book Taylor says: "We all change our beliefs of course. We all persuade each other to do things; we all watch advertising; we all get educated and experience [religions.] Brainwashing, if you like, is the extreme end of that; it's the coercive, forceful, psychological torture type." Taylor also noted that brainwashing "is only extreme of a much more widespread phenomenon which is persuasion. How we make people think things that might not be good for them, that they might not otherwise have chosen to think."

Here is a clip of Kathleen Taylor expounding on why she wrote her book which looks brainwashing through the lens of neuroscience and psychology combined…

While agreeing with her hypothesis I feel that Taylor cloaks her findings in a more politically correct  fashion (she needs to sell books) than I would. She claims that potential subjects would be people involved in unnamed cults and terrorist organizations but I believe the "mental illness" Taylor references transcends the groups in her limited list. My belief is that her theory holds true for all religious beliefs, all cults and all organizations with hardline radical unbending beliefs when they become too pervasive in an individuals life to the point where individuality, tolerance and reasoned rational though is lost. With hyper religious and ideological zealots there seems to be a line that they cross where their belief becomes a cudgel to beat, as well as shield themselves from, all perceived opponents/enemies as opposed to being a helpful guideline to live life by. In addition I believe Taylor's theory can be extended to hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-nazis all the way down the line to the Tea Party "patriots". The sense of self is lost to the people who adhere to the philosophies of these groups as they enter into the realm of group think or hive mind. Surely this must be looked at as a form of mental instability if not the right out aforementioned diagnosis of mental illness.

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