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?
Symptomatic of this risk of flipping over into fascism were a set of rituals and practices Adorno particularly abhorred – for instance, the technique of calling for a discussion, only to then make one impossible; “democratism” in the form of endless, and at times fruitless committee meetings; suspicion and paranoia, especially in relation to questions of leadership and representation; a mode of behaviour (he qualified it as barbaric inhumanity) that confused “regression” with “revolution”; the blind primacy of “direct action” as a substitute for “thought”; a formalism and proceduralism which were indifferent to the content and shape of that against which one revolts. For him, dialectics meant, amongst other things, that ends were not indifferent to means.BACK TO TOP