06 January 2013

Spiritual but not Religious Psychosis?

There is a story in the Daily Telegraph about a study conducted at University College London that proports to claim that people who are traditionally religious, agnostics, and atheists are perfectly sane, but people who claim to be spiritual but not religious are nuts.

According to the study "[spiritual people] were 77 per cent more likely than the others to be dependent on drugs, 72 per cent more likely to suffer from a phobia, and 50 per cent more likely to have a generalised anxiety disorder." The researchers concluded "'there is increasing evidence that people who profess spiritual beliefs in the absence of a religious framework are more vulnerable to mental disorder.
"The nature of this association needs greater examination in qualitative and in prospective quantitative research.'" 

Why am I not surprised?

A person named Meg969 commented on the article "No panic folks, take it easy. :DTranslating into common English it means that 'spiritual' people know more, hear more, see more and feel more than others and so it is obvious they will feel agitated (after all they are people as well) more often than the 'rest'. Besides, spiritual people may indeed experience aspects of life to a bigger extent than others but at the same time they may find more strenght to control or abandon their addictives. Nothing new was found really. London team just trying to put it all into a negative context for spiritual people and the society in overall? I have a funny feeling this article aims to simply conclude that spiritual people are basically mentally unstable."

I tend to agree, and so does Ken Wilber.

The more perspectives you can take on the larger the field of your awareness and the less attached to this little identity you have constructed in this life. At the same time you are more tacitly aware of suffering in the world and feel more deeply. If you have not made the monumental leap to second tier you are stuck in the existential halfway house and life pretty much sucks for you.

At the same time, we can look at these findings in another way. People with higher intelligence and psychological trauma may look to spirituality as a means of finding relief from their problems because neither traditional religion or atheism have the tools necessary to meet their needs. In other words, spiritual people are not necessarily more likely to develop psychological problems, people with psychological problems are more likely to develop spirituality.

Now here's what's really gonna' bake your noodle. What is the point of this story? I could have told you all this without having to do some expensive study that "requires much more research dollars". I'm not sure, but somewhere among the 400 previous posts on The Urban Mystic, I probably did talk about this before.

My old teacher always admonished us to look at who was saying what and to understand their biases to understand what they were saying better. Understanding the Telegraph's political leanings makes the spin they put on this story very clear. What is the only thing that organised religion fears more than atheism? People who are not atheists who do not need organised religion. A center right publication like the Telegraph is sticking with the Church of England, and if people can find God without the Church then they are a bigger threat than Dawkins and his laughable rehashes of Fifth Century arguments against God's existence that are packaged in a cheap tuxedo of scientistic materialism. The Church can use the atheists as a foil to strenghten its grip on its members, but as soon as a rival appears on the God scene they start to lose it. The simple Church-atheist dichotomy breaks apart just like the left-right dichotomy was shattered in my brilliant video Integral Politics. It's all just a dog and pony show to distract you from the truth and maintain a ridged grip on power.