My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
There are, broadly, two strains of liberalism in this country. The first is less a political philosophy than an exclusive club. It assumes that all wisdom was born in Europe and North America and that the truth is kept alive here by the mainly white suburban middle classes, who alone know what is best for the rest. It is far more interested in what political philosopher CB MacPherson called “possessive individualism” — the right of people of property to hold on to what they believe to be rightfully theirs — than in building a free and just society. This strain of liberalism is intolerant of all views but its own and its adherents, ironically, share many of the attitudes of Stalinist Marxists — only they know the truth and to disagree is not to hold a different opinion but to be plain wrong. Inevitably, its view is usually communicated in a sneer designed to show superiority and so it does more to antagonise than to persuade. This strain is destined, for obvious reasons, to wield little influence over our future — a prospect that perversely pleases those who espouse it as it confirms their belief that they are surrounded by Philistines. – Steven Friedman in Business DayBACK TO TOP