Quote of the week

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?

Nathaniel P.Morris
Scientific American
2 November 2012

[T]here is no part of society in which people don’t look towards some sort of magic to strengthen themselves against the vicissitudes of life. Middle class people are, for instance, often fanatically wedded to all kinds of belief in magic ranging from prosperity cults organised, oddly enough, in the name of a Palestinian carpenter who scorned wealth to various kinds of quackery, the fantasy that the possession of commodities can miraculously transform us at the level of our essential being and actual belief in concepts as entirely divorced from reality as the fiction that we inhabit an ongoing ‘national democratic revolution’,  that there could be a ‘Zuma moment’ to match the ‘Lula moment’ or that ‘the free market’ could liberate us all. – Richard Pithouse at SACSIS

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