May 31, 2013

Leading neuroscientist: Religious fundamentalism may be a ‘mental illness’ that can be ‘cured’

Religious fundamentalism and cruelty to children may one day be treated in the same way as mental illness, a neuroscientist has speculated.
Kathleen Taylor, a research scientist at Oxford University’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, says strong negative beliefs could be eradicated using techniques already in the works.
Dr Taylor was speaking at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales when she was asked what she forsaw as positive developments in neuroscience in the coming years, The Times reports.
She replied: “One man’s positive can be another man’s negative. One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated.
“Someone 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.
“I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults. I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children. 
“These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorised as mental illness.”
In a previous blog for the Huffington Post, Dr Taylor wrote of the “astonishing” advances in neuroscience and how it offers hope for some of the most feared diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
But she concedes motives beyond those which are purely clinical run into problematic territory.
Writing in September, a month before the release of her book The Brain Supremacy, she says: “The ethics developed by doctors, over centuries, to deal with human suffering, are different from those developed by scientists trying to understand how the world works.
“They're still more different from the ethics of businesses keen to cash in on the new technologies… techniques created to heal can also be employed for other purposes, and the ability to get data from living brains is a holy grail for many interested parties other than neuroscientists and doctors.”
She adds: “Human systems are always changed by their interactions with others, and in hard-to-calculate ways. What a volunteer says and does in a research lab may be altered not only by the lab environment or the phrasing of a question, but by who the experimenters are and how they behave. The human person thus needs to be considered. Technologies which directly scan or manipulate brains cannot be neutral tools, as open to commercial exploitation as any new gadget.”
Links between extreme faiths and mental health have been made before, with former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Dr Dinesh Bhugra, highlighting recent religious conversions being more associated with a developing psychotic mental illness.
In a paper entitled ‘Self-concept: Psychosis and attraction of new religious movements’, he points to data from studies which shows that patients with first onset psychosis are likely to change their religion.
The introduction to Dr Taylor’s book adds further caution: “We need to be careful when it comes to developing technologies which can slip through the skull to directly manipulate the brain.
“They cannot be morally neutral, these world-shaping tools; when the aspect of the world in question is a human being, morality inevitably rears its hydra heads.
“Technologies which profoundly change our relationship with the world around us cannot simply be tools, to be used for good or evil, if they alter our basic perception of what good and evil are.”


  1. Dr. Kathleen Taylor's subjects will be Hasidic Rabbis

  2. I am sure Christians will be stoked to hear this but not as much as Muslims, for Jews it will just be business as usury...

  3. So now they want to make religion into a mental illness??

  4. Stupid stupid stupid. Leave people alone, the more so called "enlightened people become" the more they try to play God the more the screw it up for the rest of us. Who's to stay what is extreme or even that wrong or what is the tipping point to the "extreme" factor?

  5. This is not new. I know it from stories and scientific works of 19th century. Religious feelings, perceptions and expressions which were all-too-hard to understand to a person´s surroundings, or repugnant, or wearisome to them... led to the verdict of "religious insanity" and then perhaps institutionalization, which included drugging, forced cold baths, being tied to a bed or chair for days running and other tortures misnamed by the "psychiatrists" of these times as "therapies for insanity"! Instead of trying to understand, or perhaps even learn from, a "madman of God" - one tried to subdue his will and autonomous thought in order to fit him in, and if he - or she - lost life in that process it was a side effect and a sad consequence of the "disease" .. which it often was not. There is even the well-documented case of an intelligent non-universitary man having discovered a new, important piece of knowledge in Mechanics - nothing supernatural or "head-in-the-clouds" at all! - who got burdensome to his family by concerning himself with reckoning and thinking about his discovery instead of his family, and was institutionalized for being a madman, by his own wife, and "treated" by being tied to his bed for weeks running, or to a chair for days running. HE was lucky enough to be able to contact a lawyer from within asylum, after months of torture, and the lawyer got him out - otherwise he would have died from that "therapy"... When he was still alive, some universitary man discovered the very same scientific law, and published it; and thus (much too late) he proved this victim of collective narrow-mindedness had not been insane at all.

  6. I have sayed that Science to day is somewhere between downright Fraud and Morronic psedu drivel, not even good drivel just pure sensless drivel and this kind of bullshitt is what the CHEKA/KGB/CIA/MI5-6/a.s.o. was experts on.

    And strangly since we are in the scientific corner, why and whom is the target, a gov. that makes policys and kills millions based on fake "news" and "intellegence", or a man that have becomed Religious.
    What about Mad. Albrights lauughter on the question of what about the half million Iraqi Children dying in the Land from the clousing down on comerse, where even medisin to children was banned, she just Laughted and sayed it was Wurth it, even after the fact that we all knew it was a war based on Lies.
    Is she f.... crasy or NOT, tell me, scientist, whats the answer.

    And by the way, have the so caled scentific neurosientific comenty ever read the Talmud, have You. Probably not, beacuse then YOU would have been silent, because the Talmud is a horrific religion.

    No, this is the same drivel that drives the Montary policy, the global wraming cult, and proxy wars in a multitute of lands and still this f... is babbeling about some religious people, huh, like the Buddistic Myanmarians slaughtering ten thousands of inocent Muslims, a genocide not even mentioned in the "news".

    This is Sovjet all over again, and the Scandinavian lands inckl Norway and Seweden both use this kind of "objective" morronic sience, to justify taking in people for "psycological" treatment.

    No, the fact is that to day, the science is so corrupted, to out of toutch with reality and all we gett is drivel, like the presnet neuro drivel about our Brain, aboviously a person with simple "mechanical" background, just more drivel from an oridnary, idiot servante.
    The only reason for this drivel to be served on the news, is the fact it sutes the Govermens acions and gives them a "scientific" exuse to clamp down, on any oposition.

    Just like the Zionist controlled Sovjet.


  7. Would it not be simpler to define what is NOT "mental illness"?
    By current standards, you are presumed MENTALLY ILL and must prove you are not.
    And by the way, how well would these "good doctors" stand up to a little scrutiny?
    How about a definition of SANITY.

  8. more pseudo scientific voodoo.. there isn't one provable definitive test for any so called mental illness! it's all speculation at best and lies at worst!

  9. I concur that this is "voodoo," more precisely, "Palo Mayombe", a more virulent strain of bunga bunga... Palo Mayombe kills people, see, just as this proposed treatment of beliefs by magical chemical potion and gizmo will do.

    Back in the old days, if the magic didn't work, the priest was tied to a wagon on a bed of straw, hitched to an ox, set fire, and wheeled around the village to his slow death to the applause of the villagers to see justice done to someone who'd turned out to be a quack, according to the results. I'm willing to let "leading neuroscientist" Taylor do her experimenting with one leg shackled to the cart as a reminder of the sanctity of life -- for which there is no handy dandy pill.