Delusions

BACKGROUND

DSM-5 defines delusions as “…fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in the light of conflicting evidence.”  (p 87).  The manual lists six kinds of delusions:  persecutory; referential; grandiose; erotomanic; nihilistic; and somatic.  The APA provides another definition of delusions on p 819.  It’s substantially the same as the one above, but offers the additional varieties:  bizarre; delusional jealousy; mixed type; mood-congruent; mood-incongruent; of being controlled; thought broadcasting; and thought insertion.  Interestingly, nihilistic delusions are omitted from the second list.  These, we are told on page 87,  “…involve the conviction that a major catastrophe will occur.”

A person who groundlessly believes that his neighbors are plotting to kill him, for instance, is considered to be manifesting a persecutory delusion.  A person who groundlessly believes that he/she is the object of another person’s love and devotion, is considered to be manifesting an erotomanic delusion. And so on.  It is clear that the APA’s definition of a delusion is not specific enough for consistent application.  For instance, 26% of American adults believe that the Sun goes around the Earth every day, despite abundant, and readily available, information to the contrary. But this is not a psychiatric delusion, even though it clearly meets the requirements of the definition.

In general, beliefs that are  “…ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture…” are specifically excluded from the APA’s definition (p 819).  The ramifications of this exclusion are particularly interesting.  Suppose, for example, that I develop the patently false notion that I am a descendant of the great French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and that as such, I am the rightful emperor of Europe, psychiatry would describe me as delusional, and if my speech were a little incoherent, and my manner aloof (as befitting an emperor!), I might easily attract a “diagnosis of schizophrenia”, especially if I started making a nuisance of myself.

Now schizophrenia, as any psychiatrist can tell you, is a brain illness.  The brain is broken, and this causes the symptoms.  So my grandiose delusions are caused by brain pathology.  But now let’s thicken the plot, so to speak, and imagine that I begin to attract enormous numbers of adherents to my cause.  The disenchanted masses of the Old World rush to my standard, overthrow their venal and rapacious leaders, and propel me to my rightful and long-deserved status.  Now, my belief, because of the culture/subculture exclusion, is no longer a delusion.  So the brain pathology, that had previously afflicted me so grievously, is cured by popular acclaim!  This is a strange illness!

Obviously this last example is a little tongue-in-cheek.  But the underlying reality is entirely valid:  a patently false, even bizarre, belief is a product of brain damage.  But it is not a product of brain damage if enough people believe it.  The APA doesn’t specify how many believers are required to effect this miraculous cure, but the use of the term “sub-culture” suggests that it doesn’t have to be all that many.

Up till about 1960, many, perhaps most, psychiatrists believed that unusual beliefs of this kind had some meaning or significance within the context of the person’s history and needs.  A person who had been particularly disempowered, for instance, might express the delusion that he was the Emperor of Russia.  Or a person who needed to be cared for might express somatic delusions.  And so on.  Psychiatric treatment often consisted of talking to the person to explore these kinds of interpretations, and to look for alternative perspectives.  But this kind of approach is now almost entirely defunct within psychiatric circles.  Today, false beliefs of the kind mentioned above are almost invariably seen as symptoms of a brain disease, to be eradicated by neurotoxic chemicals and/or electric shocks.  In passing, it is worth noting that psychiatrists believe that these drugs and shocks constitute medical treatment of an illness – a belief that is generally not amenable to change, despite abundant contrary evidence.  But that’s a long tangent.

Brains, of course, can and do malfunction, and it is certainly conceivable that on some rare occasions, false beliefs might be a function of brain damage.  But in the vast majority of psychiatric clients who have been “diagnosed” with a delusional disorder, there is no established history of brain pathology.  So the question arises, why do people with perfectly ordinary and well-functioning brains  sometimes cling to false beliefs despite abundant contrary evidence?

OUR BRAINS ARE IN THE SERVICE OF OUR NEEDS

Relative to our size, we human beings have big brains, and they enable us to do some extraordinary things.  For instance, they enable us to remember things.  The electronic storage of data is a commonplace matter today, and many people imagine that the human brain functions something like a hard drive.  In fact, the brain is infinitely more subtle.  The computer stores whatever you put into it.  The brain does not.  The human brain is not an elaborate tape recorder.  At any given instant, our brains are presented with literally millions of individual stimuli to choose from.  From its earliest moment, the brain learns to select.  This is critical, because selection inevitably involves distortion.

We learn to select on the basis of our needs.  Our cognitive apparatus, like the rest of our physical equipment, is in the service of our needs.  As children, we learned to pay attention to the things we needed to pay attention to.  We learned which parts of our world were important in terms of getting our needs fulfilled.  Children learn very quickly what they have to do in order to get fed, or cuddled, or approved of, or read to, or whatever.  But – and this is a critical point – what works for one child in one family doesn’t work for another.  Most children seek the approval of their parents. A child growing up in a rabidly racist home learns to say the n….. word.  He also learns to think the n….. word.  He learns to focus on pieces of information which portray black people in a bad light, and to screen out information complimentary to black people.  Children raised in blue collar families are often taught to distrust establishment figures.  Children raised in wealthy homes learn to distrust labor associations.  And so on.

We all were taught how to think, by our parents, educators, and circumstances.  Some people learned to think in a very open, accepting way.  Others learned to be narrow and suspicious.  Some people were taught that wisdom lies in dogmatic pronouncements; others were taught that wisdom requires questioning and exploration.  Some learned that the world is a beautiful place.  Others learned that it is a vale of tears.  Some learned that it is an opportunity for rapacious exploitation.  Others learned that it is a minefield to be traversed with infinite caution.

Thought styles change over time.  People who grew up during the depression learned to value money and thrift.  This is because they frequently went hungry.  If you had a dime you could get a loaf of bread.  If you didn’t have a dime, you didn’t eat.  People raised in the fifties enjoyed greater affluence, and frequently are exasperated by what they perceive as the neurotic penny-pinching concerns of their parents.  The important point is that both groups are right.  Both groups learned to think in a manner appropriate to the environment in which they were raised.

EXTREME CONDITIONS BREED EXTREME THOUGHT PATTERNS.

A child who is beaten savagely day after day comes to think of the world as a hostile place.  He screens out the positive attributes of parental figures, and of authority figures generally, and focuses on their potential to hurt.  He conceptualizes the adult world as an obstacle course.  His basic need is to navigate as painless a path as possible.  On the other hand, the child on whom every attention is lavished conceptualizes the adult world as if it were a huge cherry orchard.  His primary need is identifying the biggest cherries, and getting an adult figure to hoist him up to pick them, or, better still, pick them for him.  Both children are conceptualizing the world correctly.

The human cognitive apparatus is not a disembodied logic machine.  It is an integral part of the person, and is in the service of his or her needs.  This is not to say that we are permanently enslaved by the attitudes of our childhood.  People obviously can and do develop their own thought patterns.  But equally, it is probably overly optimistic to imagine that we can ever completely transcend the basic concepts and mindsets that we developed early in life.

Most of the “delusional thinking” that is diagnosed in mental health practice is in fact nothing more than the perfectly normal outcome of a painful (or otherwise extreme) childhood.  But in order to recognize this, one has to spend a great deal of time listening to the individual, validating his concerns, empathizing honestly and sincerely – and most of all – recognizing that he/she is fundamentally understandable: a human being with all the potential, positive and negative, that this implies.  Psychiatry, however, with its 15-minute med-checks, and its catalog of spurious illnesses, sees the “delusional thinking” as a neuro-pathological condition.  Consequently, no attempt is made to explore these kinds of origins.  In fact, the content of the unusual thinking is almost always completely ignored.

FAILURES:  GREAT AND SMALL

Another key concept in understanding “delusional thinking” is the notion of failure.  At the risk of stating the obvious, we all fail at something from time to time.  Some of our failures are minor – like spilling a glass of water.  Others are major – like  crashing the car, or getting fired from a job.  When confronted with a failure, however, we always have two conceptual options.  We can acknowledge that we messed up, and take corrective action; or we can distort our perception of the situation to such an extent that it no longer seems to be a failure.

For example, if I try to install a pane of glass in a window frame, and in the process the pane breaks, I have two broad options.  I can identify what I did wrong, and resolve to be more careful with the replacement.  Or I can scream and yell at my wife for distracting me at a critical point in the operation.  Or I can assert that the glass had a flaw in it; the glass cutter was dull, etc..  I can, if I work at it a little, persuade myself that the breakage was not really my fault.

Similarly, if I am fired for incompetence in my job, I can conceptualize this as a failure on my part, and take some appropriate action.  Or I can conceptualize it in a way which exonerates me from blame.  (The vice-president wanted my job for his son-in-law, etc…)

The issue here is not which explanation is the true one.  Truth isn’t always that cut and dried.  The issue is that there are always multiple ways to conceptualize our errors.  Most of us don’t experience an inordinate amount of failure, but when we do, we can always resort to the second option to salve our wounded egos.  Our friends and loved ones intuitively recognize the process, and no great harm is done.

When a person experiences massive amounts of serious failure, however, the situation is very different.  In such cases, the need to distort reality becomes progressively stronger with each new incident, and eventually the person can reach a state where his thought patterns are quite bizarre.  What needs to be recognized is that these thought patterns provide him with the comfort that he cannot achieve through normal successful interaction with his environment.

The reasons for this kind of persistent failure are highly individualized, but generally involve unrealistic expectations, coupled with inadequate training and preparation.  In many cases, there is also a history of abuse.  Transition from adolescence into adulthood is one of the most difficult things any of us ever have to do. Unfortunately, at that age, most of us were reluctant to admit that we were experiencing any difficulty, or to ask for help.  The three major tasks at that period are:  selecting and launching a career, partner selection, and emancipation from parents.  Many people fail disastrously in one or more of these areas.  Some pick themselves up and try again (Option One).  Others withdraw from the field, and subconsciously rationalize this withdrawal by developing an increasingly negative view of the mainstream world.

There is really nothing startling or new in this way of conceptualizing thought distortion.  Most people can recognize this, and can even recount incidents when they themselves responded to a failure in this way.  What is startling, however, is that modern psychiatry never attempts to explore this aspect of distorted thinking.  According to psychiatry, the client thinks in this odd, bizarre fashion because he/she has a brain disease.  Nothing more needs to be explored.  All he/she needs to do is eat some major tranquilizers every day and return to the clinic once a month to be checked for adverse effects.  And psychiatry clings to this notion despite the fact that decades of generously funded and highly motivated research have failed to identify the brain pathology in question.

SOME UNUSUAL BELIEFS ARE TRUE

Another explanation for odd beliefs is that they may be true.  At one period in my life I lived in central Appalachia.  One of our neighbors was an elderly farmer.  We shared about a quarter mile of fence at the ridge-line, and often found ourselves working together setting posts and stringing wire.  During these encounters, he would explain to me the difficulties involved in farming in such hilly country.  But the special bane of his existence was a noxious weed called Multiflora Rose.  This is a rather delightful-looking green bush which develops a profusion of soft white flowers in springtime.  Unfortunately – for the farmers – it spreads like fury, and is virtually indestructible.  It is not unusual in parts of Appalachia to see whole pastures taken over by this resilient intruder.  The elderly farmer informed me with a great deal of bitterness that the government was responsible for this plague.  “They brought it here and planted it in our fence lines,” he explained.  At the time, this seemed a little implausible to me, but I later found out that Multiflora Rose was in fact introduced by state governments in Appalachia during World War II.  At that time, steel for barbed wire was scarce, and the agricultural experts hit on the idea of using the resilient plant as a living fence.  Programs were established, and farmers were encouraged financially to plant the rose in their fence lines.  Unfortunately, the experts had grossly underestimated the plant’s ability to spread, and today there are government-funded programs to eradicate the troublesome rose.

What’s interesting about this matter is that had the farmer expressed his belief, that the bushes had been planted by the government, in a mental health clinic, this might well have been considered delusional, and might even have attracted a “diagnosis of schizophrenia”.  Mental health practitioners almost never try to check the truth of bizarre stories they hear from their clients.  And once a psychiatrist hears what appears to be a bizarre or odd belief, his radar goes to full sensitivity, and, primed by the DSM’s simplistic formulas, he begins to “see” other symptoms of the “diagnosis” in question.

In addition, it should be recognized that the validity or otherwise of an unusual belief is not just a matter of factual accuracy.  In my experience, people who express delusions of grandeur are often individuals who have been massively disempowered, first by their families, schools, and peer groups, and subsequently by psychiatry.  Their insistence that they have special powers can, I think, be accurately interpreted as a functional, though awkwardly voiced, refusal to accept this disempowerment.  Similarly, people who express persecutory delusions often have a long history of being victimized, though not necessarily in the ways that they assert.

These individuals may be factually incorrect in many of their specific assertions, but they are not wrong in their general experience and contentions, that the “normal” world can be extremely dehumanizing, exploitative, indifferent, and intolerant.  Very often their delusions, though incoherent and false to the casual listener, constitute a formidable indictment of a society that not only throws away things, but also throws away people.  And they are often people who have experienced the callousness and disregard of others at first hand.

SUMMARY

The essential point here is that the thinking which mental health practitioners call delusional is simply an extreme case of a completely normal phenomenon – namely, the ability of human beings to construct thought patterns which serve our needs, and to consistently screen out information which threatens these patterns.

The psychiatric explanation is invalid, but it is also extremely destructive.  Consider the case of a young man who experiences a series of disastrous experiences throughout late adolescence and early adulthood:  acne; ridicule from peers; ethnic discrimination; social gaffes; obesity; not being “cool”; chronic embarrassment; no sexual contacts; academic inadequacies; inability to find a job on leaving school, etc…  Option One (facing the difficulties and doing something about them) becomes extremely difficult – perhaps even impossible.  The tendency to distort reality – to construct a delusional world of his own – is strong.  And that’s what many such young people do.  The delusional system is simply his way of protecting himself from the reality.  His delusional system is not essentially different from the individual cognitive constructs that the rest of us use.  His is only more highly developed.  And it is more highly developed because he had a greater need to screen out the conventional world.  We are all driven inexorably to find joy.  And if we can’t find it in mainstream thoughts and activities, we look for it somewhere else.

If our deluded young man becomes sufficiently disturbing to his family or friends, or to the community at large, he may attract the attention of mental health practitioners.  He will be questioned by psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, all of whom subscribe to the psychiatric dogma, and he will probably be diagnosed as “schizophrenic”.  The destructive aspect of this process is that he now has an “incurable illness” that purports to explain, not only his present situation, but also his previous experiences, and encourages him to give up any attempt to find a fulfilling and satisfying life-role.  So he can remain an outcast for the rest of his life.  The real problems, his series of painful experiences, failures, emotional distress, and lack of coping skills, are ignored.  No attempt is made to teach him the skills that he lacks, or even allow him to vent about his previous misfortune.  Within the mental health system, he will be given neuroleptic drugs, and assigned a “sick” role.  He will be diligently trained in this role, and will be punished in various ways if he deviates from this role.  The chances that a practitioner will ever set foot inside his home are extremely slim.  No attempt will be made to help him achieve functional independence and fulfillment.  In fact, the accepted wisdom in psychiatric circles is that “schizophrenics” should not be pushed, and expectations should be kept to an absolute minimum.  Not surprisingly, the results are pretty dismal.

  • DietrichB

    It should also be noted that psychiatrists routinely stigmatize domestic, work, school and other abuse, bullying and mobbing as delusional, ADHD and bipolar per Dr. Carole Warshaw, Psychiatrist, Dr. Heinz Leymann, Psychologist and many others. Such abuse is frequently inflicted by sociopaths/narcissists who destroy people with impunity while aided and abetted by what I call the mental death profession as a result. In my opinion, one of the reasons psychiatry/psychology became so corrupt is that it became infiltrated and hijacked by what Dr. Robert Hare calls intraspecies predators in his great books Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us and Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. Dr. Martha Stout has also focused on sociopaths or psychopaths in her excellent book, The Sociopath Next Door as has Dr. John Clarke in his great book, Working with Monsters. Interesting that Dr. Hare, the foremost authority on psychopaths is a psychologist basing his work on that of Dr. Hervey Cleckley as are Dr. Stout and Dr. Clarke. Thus, victims of such predators are routinely destroyed by psychiatry since it refuses to aid and validate the victims while aiding and abetting their fellow corrupt predators with more power in bed with Big Pharma/Business. The book and web site, Political Ponerology, are also very enlightening about the evils inflicted by psychopaths that destroy countless lives.
    As a result, there are now tons of books and web sites about the immense harm done by the “Dark Triad” of narcissists, psychopaths/sociopaths (same thing; just depends on one’s theory of origin) and Machiavellians. Actually, these labels aren’t really necessary in that one can just label these monsters as EVIL or LIVE spelled backwards since they destroy lives with impunity at work, home, school and the world at large.
    The fact that the so called mental health profession does nothing to help or even warn people against such “charming” predators shows that its claims of helping people or saving lives are very hollow indeed. Another great life saving book is Guy DeBecker’s The Gift of Fear, which describes how many “charming” predators operate.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Dietrich,

    Thanks for coming in. This is helpful and enlightening.

    Best wishes.

  • Rob Bishop

    Here’s an interesting article about how “psychosis” (such as hearing voices) is not a mental illness http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/12/changing-societys-whole-approach-psychosis/

  • all too easy

    What is stigmatizing domestic, work, and other abuse, bullying…?

    I mean, I realize psychiatrists are the most evil form of humanity that has ever lived, but what does your accusation actually propose?

  • Thanks for this article, Phil. The astonishing thing is that most psychiatrists are unable to see any relation between the content of people’s delusions and what they have been through. If a brain disease were operating, delusions would be arbitrary, random and meaningless – someone might belief that a bridge had transformed into a cow, or that Pluto were a black hole, or that Barack Obama were born in Kenya.

    But delusions frequently involve replayings of situations in which one is in danger, terrified, and threatened – i.e. being pursued by the FBI, being abducted by aliens, being spoken about negatively by other people. This is a not a brain disease but complex delusional replayings of neglect and trauma. But psychiatrists cannot see that.

    For an alternate view, here is Neville Symington, Australian therapist, talking about how to understand psychotic clients in psychotherapy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG_i_cmdsPk

    Also I would refer the reader wanting to learn how to transform or “cure” schizophrenia to these books below, which are accessible to the general reader and worth getting used on Amazon:

    Ira Steinman – Treating the Untreatable, Healing in the Realms of Madness
    Paris Williams – Rethinking Madness
    Murray Jackson – Weathering the Storms
    Vamik Volkan – The Infantile Psychotic Self and Its Fates

    As I’ve noted in earlier comments, about 40-50 long qualitative stories of full recovery or great improvement from severe psychosis are in these books. Meaningful healing of “schizophrenia” is possible; formerly psychotic people can become essentially normal, but it takes a lot of resources and time. This is something that a lot of people have trouble believing. It reminds me of Macchiavelli’s quote, “Mankind do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”

  • Rob Bishop

    I assume cognitive dissonance contributes to delusions and other irrational thinking?

  • S Randolph Kretchmar

    I know a University of Chicago law professor who throughly believes that delusions may be clinically distinguished from false or bizarre beliefs, according to whether or not they remit with the administration of antipsychotic medication.

    I have asked at least one expert in the scientific literature of mental health, whether there is any support for this. I was told absolutely none. Does anyone here know of any published study that could be so interpreted to support my U of C friend — or is he in fact suffering from a delusion about delusions?

  • all too easy

    Phil, what is a thought? From where do thoughts originate? Do corpses have thoughts? How about a brain that has been removed from the skull and placed on a window sill for 3 weeks? Does it think? What is required for the production of thoughts?

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’stard

    I agree with a lot of this, but part company with you on a few points

    “….an extremely negative view of the mainstream world.”

    And one which I might add, in its negative character, is held by many of the great thinkers and practically all of the great artists, not forgetting the great religions, and though such views may diverge on the matter of a number particulars, they express profound agreement in their view of the mainstream world, many of which people would take issue with the criteria by which you ascertain success and failure, which for some is not about finding a partner, nor does it hinge upon a career, which, no matter how much the heart may desire such things, the intellect repudiates as things of no worth, as false measures of success, perhaps not insofar as success is defined in purely social and relationship terms, but certainly when judged from a different perspective.

    According to this framing of life, Jesus was an abject failure, so are those who withdraw into the the monastery or the convent to lead a cloistered existence, so are the saints, so are many of the great artists and thinkers, basically, those people who lead the most exemplary lives, and those after whose example some model their own, are failures.

    Such notions allow all sorts of scoundrels, tyrants, mediocrities and fools to stick their nose up at people who have lived better lives than them, who nevertheless lack the accoutrements of wealth, power, and the other things that the world sets store by, into which world I wouldn’t even bring a turd if I had the choice.

    For different people, success and failure hinges upon different things. Most people being abject failures as principled, thinking, feeling human beings, lay all stress on superficialities, on status, wealth, on a partner, on conforming, being normal, on rendering oneself serviceable to the demands of a corrupt world, wallowing in the universal filth, as Cioran said, and the notion inevitably gains currency and momentum that humping, settling down with a partner (with all the intellectual and moral sacrifices that entails), begetting children, a career, etc., are not just the measure of a person’s worth, but also the true ends of existence.

    Having little in themselves to recommend them, people attach all importance to what lies without, to “succeeding” in the terms set by society, in the light of which the rest of us seem like failures, who deal with our failure by taking refuge in delusional notions, such as that life is about much more than what society says it is about.

  • all too easy

    That’s right. All thoughts are born in a living brain. They emerge from 3 lbs of jello like matter that is flooded with oxygenated blood and protected by the blood brain barrier. Every thought is a product of biological, chemical and electrical activity. What could go wrong with 3 lbs. of neurons with hundreds of billions connections? Only diseases that are measurable with current technology?

    The murder rate among males drops dramatically as young men become old men. Why? Testosterone. Golly. You mean that that male hormone makes killers out of people? Every thought flows from measurable bio/chem/electrical bits of energy created within the brain.

    Now you’re cooking!

  • He is suffering from a delusion about delusions, just as most psychiatrists suffer from the delusion that schizophrenia represents a valid, lifelong illness

  • cledwyn bulbs

    That comment was less a criticism of Phil than it was of the rise of the idea, concomitant with the ascension of the philistine bourgeoisie to social power, that success consists in a career, in a getting partner, and so on and so forth, that is, in the terms laid down by the cultural hegemony. I’d at least like to think that Phil is aware that there is no single preordained pattern to which a man’s life must conform if it is to be rightly deemed successful.

    Though I would definitely concede that, given the role of cultural hegemony in shaping the average man’s view of reality, in terms consistent with the dominant class’s own interests, and the successful inculcation, through the cultural apparatus, of the beliefs, values, perceptions, and mores of said class, many people do indeed, in either repudiating or failing to be successful when viewed in the light thereof, feel some degree of insecurity, largely owing no doubt to the native tendency of men to defer to the opinions and judgements of those who rarely exercise the faculties appertaining to their proper formation, that is, the general public, or as Mencken put it, the booboisie, the undifferentiated mass of self-satisfied corpses in the making, that Hydra (a monster with many heads) which in every age is united in confederacy against the outsider.

    I am grateful for the acknowledgement that the fear encountered in patients supposedly suffering from paranoid schizophrenia (a class of individuals in whose company I find myself) does not emerge ex nihilo or in vacuo, but finds receptive soil in a society and I would add, a world, that in every age is hostile to the existence of some of its members, a hostility that is usually discharged on the basis of some deviation from the norm, some irregularity whose entry into the social scene, viewed from the perspective of the men who occupy the lowest grade of consciousness in the gradation thereof, barely at one remove from the apes whence they have descended, summons forth from the depths of the human psyche its many demons.

    Yet most men, either because they are disinclined to acknowledge evil and pass judgement thereupon when they are implicated in it themselves; or because such evil, due to the reflection it affords a man of himself, undergoes in his eyes a kind of reverse alchemical transformation and becomes its opposite; or because of ignorance and that curious effect of man’s solipsism that precludes him from entering into the minds of people outside himself, and therefore from understanding the perspectives of the marginalized and the oppressed, from which in part arises the belief that the other person must be mad; due to all of this, most men are incapable it would seem of empathizing with certain individuals whose fear has an all too real basis in fact, no matter how much they err in the articulation of that fear.

    Shakespeare once said through the mouths of one of his characters that “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    Not so for man, who abides by pretty much the opposite principle; for him, there are no things in heaven and earth outside of his philosophy, and any lack of correspondence therewith is attributed to madness on the part of the other, that is, assuming that he is not merely pressing the term or any of its descendants into the service of some base design, something satirized in the works of said Bard, such as in Hamlet and Timon of Athens.

    A lot of people who suffer from actual or presumed paranoid delusions are misfits, odd ducks, who find they cannot go out into society without attracting the sinister attentions of the bipeds who, their center of gravity always being in their environment (necessarily so, for when they look within, they find nothing of any interest), are always on the lookout for some irregularity in their environment, some scapegoat to sacrifice at the altar of their own fecklessness, boredom and depravity, some transsexual, someone whose hair is too long, someone deformed, someone who doesn’t walk right, it doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t fit in, you are fair game.

    Every time they leave their house, it’s like walking into a gladiatorial arena; everywhere they have to fend off predators under the gaze of spectators looking to make a spectacle of their suffering, and given the Disseminated Primatemaia, the veritable plague of people man’s unrestrained humping has unleashed upon the world, given that man seems to be reproducing himself to infinity, the more are the predators and voyeurs the outsider has to deal with. No wonder he often resorts to violence.

    In modern society it is little wonder some people are seen as paranoid. Human depravity and the predatory tendencies of man, in order to adapt to the changing environment, have had to adopt various disguises, or to confine their expression to those gestures that cannot be controlled for, to the the malicious laughter, stares, sniggers and taunts which assail the outsider on all sides.

    Of course, talking more generally about delusions, one reason why men are so necessarily nuts, so inevitably delusional, is because the truth is rarely consistent with our needs and desires, the brain not being some sort of philosophical wayfarer.

    Veritas vos liberabit. The truth shall set you free. This is true, as any suicide would tell you if he could.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Edward,

    Thanks for coming in, and for the references.

    The truly tragic aspect of all this is that prior to modern psychiatry, it was
    generally recognized and accepted that people who were “crazy” could and did “come back” with appropriate support and care. “Schizophrenia, the incurable brain disease” is an invention of modern psychiatry.

    Best wishes.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Rob,

    Yes. We humans generally like to be consistent, and it’s usually easier to change our thinking than change our habits.

  • That’s true Phil, In the earlier part of the 20th century attitudes were different toward psychosis, and a hopeful tradition of psychotherapeutic intervention was emerging. But it got derailed by the disease model and medication.

    And to quote Lord of the Rings, “Some things that should not have been forgotten, were lost.” That’s what I meant, that many people today are oblivious to the notion that psychotic people don’t have a brain illness and could be redeemed as human beings.

  • cledwyn goodpuddings

    The conflict between the heart and the intellect , that is, between the competing claims of desire, self-interest and appetite on the hand, and truth on the other, is usually resolved in favour of the former, whence many of the delusions to which the intellect is often subject.

    Another reason, I would surmise, why people delude themselves is because when a belief takes root in a man’s mind, it can only be uprooted by upsetting the soil in which it is planted.

    People become so fanatically attached to their own beliefs, the trauma the separation therefrom occasions is so unbearable that, faced with disconfirmatory evidence, they grasp onto their beliefs all the more tightly and protect them with all the desperation of a miser his wealth. If anything, the discrepancy with which a man’s beliefs and the reality they rarely correspond to is beset, when it becomes visible to the believer, only serves to strengthen the grip of said beliefs on a man’s mind, because in response to the perceived threat and the blood it sends coursing through his veins, the deluded individual mobilizes thereagainst the full force of his bottomless capacity for rationalization, whereafter he dives even deeper into the murky depths of his delusion.

    The problem is, reality is so damned complex, and we encounter such a welter of information from moment to moment, that the mind of necessity has to simplify it, iron out all the discrepancies, and in order so that we don’t live in a state of perpetual, crippling confusion and disharmony, our beliefs, rather than reexamining them regularly in the light of new evidence and theories, end up ossifying into certainties, which no-one can disabuse us of.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Cledwyn,

    Thanks for coming in.

    You are correct, of course, in pointing out that what I referred to as the three great challenges of early adulthood are arbitrary and culture-bound. They certainly don’t embody any universal or necessary truths, as even a brief familiarity with history and cultural anthropology would make clear.

    Essentially, what I’m saying is that in Western societies at this time, these are the three objectives that are presented to, and accepted by, the great majority of young people. Most young people succeed in these three areas, more or less, and become integrated with mainstream activities and values. A small minority do not.

    From a philosophical point of view one could argue that the three great
    challenges are not all that important, but they are usually very important to
    the people who haven’t overcome them. I’ve seen a lot of hearts broken in this particular arena. Psychiatry’s answer is to deceive the individuals, patronizingly, that they have broken brains, and therefore should eat the pills and disengage from the effort. My position is that most of these individuals could succeed if they received appropriate help and support.

    To individuals who, for whatever reason, consciously and deliberately turn
    their backs on the three challenges, I have no argument whatsoever. There is plenty of room on the planet for the artist who forsakes intimate relationships in order to pursue his art, and for the rover who works as little as he can in order to travel and see the world, and for the philosopher who sees wage-work as the enslavement of the soul.

    I do agree with you that people who follow unconventional paths are often victimized and persecuted, and I think we should be working towards greater tolerance for alternative lifestyles and perspectives.

    If I ever start another website, a contingency which seems increasingly remote with each passing year, these are the kinds of topics that I would like to explore.

    Best wishes.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Randolph,

    I know of no such evidence. I think it’s part of the same propaganda that coined the term “antipsychotics”; as if these drugs somehow targeted crazy behavior/speech. This is simply not the case. They are major tranquilizers – they reduce crazy behavior because they reduce all behavior. Most people when they first take them can barely get their feet off the floor (the Haldol shuffle).

    It’s interesting that this is coming from a law professor. The tentacles of psychiatric propaganda reach everywhere.

    Best wishes.

  • cledwyn slip slap n slide

    Picking up where I left off, as I say, our beliefs, no matter how poorly they correspond to the reality we are confronted with, easily ossify into certainties. Yet the ideas a man has, by dint of the certainty and vehemence with which they are felt, he struggles in vain to contain within the confines of his own head, for ideas so held, kindle and fan the flames of fanaticism which often break out into the figurative conflagrations and holocausts with which human history is replete with the examples of; ideas so held aspire to world domination, to lay claim to and take captive of more and more people and the world wherein they suffer, so that the empire whereover their rule extends encompasses every heart, every mind, in pursuit whereof no stone is left unturned, no heretic unburned, no blood unshed).

    This certainty, this fanatical faith in ourselves, of course, has other sources, such as man’s amour-propre. Yet it must also be stated that perhaps what animates a man most powerfully with a sense of his own infallibility and of certainty as concerns his own beliefs is ignorance and stupidity.

    “….the certainty men have in their beliefs (and therefore in the determination and force of their action, which has a direct relationship with the certainty of their beliefs) is in inverse proportion to their knowledge…with the child and the uneducated man, it can be said that they believe they are ignorant of nothing, and, if nothing else, they believe they know for certain everything they believe.”

    Leopardi

    Hence the superior bearing and overweening manner of the fool, and the futility of argument therewith.

    The ignoramus, the man who shuns philosophical knowledge, perhaps because he feels instinctively that it would not accord with the interests to which his whole life is oriented, in a reversal of the Socratic paradox, says not, “the only thing I know is that I know nothing”, but that “the only thing I know is that I know everything”, from the seed of which conviction burgeons forth his fanaticism.

    Even those men learned enough to acknowledge in theory the truth of the Socratic paradox and its applicability to himself, nevertheless in practice acts with the certainty of which are born his actions.

    And this latter point is important, for it states the truth that men, if they are to act how they desire, must possess certainty in their own beliefs, lest his uncertainty introduces so many doubts into his thoughts it renders him an abulic, which can largely explain the inactivity of certain depressed people, philosophical speculation having drained him of the will to live, that is, to act. Men, if they are to act, must believe.

    Whence the delusions of certain professionals, whose conduct is circumscribed for the most part within the limits imposed from above, who must delude themselves if they are to discharge their professional duties, unless that is they are willing to go and get another job.

  • cledwyn bulbs

    Having drained “them”, not “him”

  • cledwyn “against nature”

    The business of social life is transacted upon such cynical grounds (be it in its natural state, anterior to the encroachments upon nature of civilization through all the successive phases of its development, or the form such life has come to assume) that it is only natural that some people live in almost perpetual fear of others.

    Yet it is not just society that occasions such fear, but creation itself, which for some, given the position to which they have been assigned in the natural order on the basis of some congenital defect or weakness (to whose disadvantage, in the struggle for survival, these are found to redound); for some, the world can feel like a sinister joke at their expense, as if the whole of Nature were laughing at them.

    For is it not true that just as Nature brings certain creatures into the animal kingdom purely to fatten the bellies of others, to be preyed upon, that, likewise, in the human kingdom we find the same inequitable distribution of advantages and disadvantages, which allows the recipients of the former to dominate, torture, torment, and devour those cursed with the latter, to the suffering of all of which, be it the fly entangled in the web of the spider, the mouse in the jaws of the snake, or the human at the mercy of his stronger fellows, Nature is callously indifferent, because it is she who ordains such a state of affairs?

    (This is what optimists, and others who make it their business to whitewash the scandals of creation and who pledge their allegiance to Nature and not its victims, that is, almost everyone, will never understand.

    How create a world that is truly fair and just when Nature in its phenomena discloses that the world is a hell by its own ordinances?)

    The world is a sinister place. It’s a wonder any man is ever free from fear and terror. Ernest Becker understood only too well just how terrifying things are.

  • all too easy

    Thanks clod. You’ve brightened my day, as usual. Hellen Keller is proof you are wrong.

  • all too easy

    Or, say you recruited a number of misfits and lured them into becoming your devoted followers and you convinced them a race war would soon engulf the nation, so you directed them to murder in cold blood innocent people, so that others would believe the war had commenced.

    I’d rather see that boy heavily drugged with seroquel, wouldn’t you?

    I am do I.g my best to run my sentences together after our hero, clodhopapuss

    That should read I am doing my best

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’stard

    “The essential point here is that the thinking that mental health practitioners call delusional is simply an extreme case of a normal phenomenon…”

    I think that this sense that the often irrational thoughts or behavior of mental patients represents an extreme variation of the norm has nothing to do with there be anything absolutely “crazier” about the former, or at least not commonly so, but that such an impression derives from the relative impropriety thereof. Our sense of the proper, be it in respect of behavior, feeling, outlook, our mode of expression, beauty, or anything else pertaining thereto, is conditioned by habit, by what we are accustomed to.

    Yet men assume that their sense of the propriety of any of the foregoing is absolute, and that which is out of the ordinary seems absolutely improper, that is crazy, or ugly, or stupid, or some such other term which men attach to some sort of irregularity or impropriety in themselves or their environment when they impute to nature what rightly should be attributed to the faculty of habituation and to the tyranny of the common example, whereupon rests for the most part (opinion is also important obviously) our sense of the propriety of a belief, a face, a haircut, a person’s attire, their mode of expression, their behavior and so on, a real or seeming extreme deviation from which, because it seems to us improper, because we are not accustomed to it, seems also absurd.

    Exciting as it does some of the more sinister aspects of human nature, such as man’s derision and callous insensitivity, over which the average fool has little control, not inclined as he is to reflect upon the evil that issues spontaneously from the human heart, with the preceding discussion borne in mind, it is little wonder that some people are fearful and paranoid in relation to others, but I digress.

    With all this in mind, it can be said that our sense of the madness of a given belief or behavior has little to do with its being objectively any more irrational than those that bear the imprimatur of custom and convention, and much more to do with habit, which makes certain things seem proper, that is (depending upon whether it is a behavior we are viewing or a face) sane, good, or beautiful, and so on, irrespective of their intrinsic properties. For which reason it can be said that our sense of the crazy, of the beautiful, of the good, is largely determined by the common example, by habit much more so than anything inherent in objects themselves,

    I would say that it is not so much that the behaviors of mental patients are often any more crazy, an extreme variation of irrational behavior that is normal, but that their abnormality gives us a livelier impression of their irrationality, though often such behaviors aren’t irrational at all, but merely seem so to us because they are aberrant.

    Now of course, trying to say such things to the average man will only elicit the usual incredulity, which incredulity is experienced by the ignorant always as if by that fact alone something were untrue, as if their unbelief itself suffices to show something to be untrue.

  • Cledwyn B’stard

    Coming back to the subject of people like myself labelled “paranoid schizophrenic”, why should anyone not live in fear of others when people are so vile to each other, a vileness that, at least in modern society, has taken on such frankly pestilential proportions, only by withdrawing from society, seeking refuge in a mental hospital, a convent, a grave, or some such other natural habitat of men predestined by nature for the cross, so to speak, only by doing this can one inoculate oneself against this epidemic.

    The vileness of all necessitates that of each, for when vileness is the norm its practice becomes both physically and mentally a veritable survival imperative, and one can get nowhere in this world without incorporating into oneself the general corruption, hypocrisy, egotism and nastiness with which the ascension of the individual through the social ranks, and the concomitant descent of his humanity through the circles of hell, are paved.

    The decent man in this world, as Dostoevsky showed in “The Idiot”, is predestined for the role of martyr or mental patient, as if by divine calling.

    In a society where hatred, egotism, and deceit are the common currency of human relations, one can either retreat to the margins, to a grave, or allow oneself to be initiated into the wicked ways of society and internalize the rules that obtain therein.

    Modern man is so rotten, he perspires pus. Everywhere the body politic is ravaged by and bears the stigmata of the figurative diseases of self-love, egotism, hatred, greed, lust, mendacity, and hypocrisy, and no-one escapes the miasma emanating from this putrescence, unless he takes the necessary preventive measures.

    In such a society as ours, what kind of person wouldn’t live in fear? Perhaps those who’ve climbed to the top of the social dunghill, but certainly not those left at the bottom.

    TBC

  • all too easy

    Seegrist’s behavior was so disconcerting that clerks at a local K-Mart told her they had no rifles in stock when she tried to purchase one from them. She eventually purchased a Ruger 10/22 at another store, and on October 30, 1985 she went to the mall. The first trip that day was not the rampage, as she shopped for Halloween items at a party store and worked out at the club before returning to the Springfield Mall for the last time.

    She spent a good deal of time at the mall she chose for the 1985 spree, harassing customers and making statements about how “good” other spree killings were, such as the 1984 San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre. Seegrist joined the Army in December 1984 and she was discharged two months later due to her behavioral problems. Seegrist had made herself conspicuous with unusual behavior like sitting fully clothed wearing green army fatigues at both a spa and sauna at a local fitness club. An instructor at the fitness club Seegrist attended said “she hated everyone and would often talk about shooting and killing people”.

    Seegrist exited her Datsun B-210, retrieved the weapon she had purchased, and then fired at a man approximately 30 yards from where she stood. The man was not hit and having seen the vehicle his would-be killer arrived in, flattened one of the Datsun’s tires to prevent an escape in that vehicle. Meanwhile Seegrist had strode toward the nearest entrance and fired at a woman using a nearby ATM, also missing. Before entering the mall, she managed to hit and kill two-year-old Recife Cosmen who was with his parents waiting to eat at a local restaurant.

    Once inside, Seegrist fired into some stores and ignored others. Though many customers fled when they heard the gunfire, she came across (Ernest) Earl Trout, who either could not or did not hear it and was simply standing in front of a store where he became one of the three people killed that day. Augustus Ferrara was the last person killed in the rampage. John Laufer, who did not realize Sylvia was firing real bullets, disarmed her as she walked up to him and tried to raise her gun to shoot him. Laufer forced her to a nearby store while he waited for the arrival of mall security. The first guard that responded asked her why she had just done what she did; her reply was “My family makes me nervous”

    In response to the December 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Seegrist’s mother Ruth told The Philly Post, “You know, it’s ironic that people who are irrational are expected under the law to get help on their own. There needs to be something in the law that compels a troubled person to be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. In the 1950s, we were institutionalizing people who weren’t mentally ill. You could institutionalize someone who was just unruly. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other.”

    In Phil’s view, she should be put to death. Nothing is wrong with her warranting an insanity defense. No such thing exists. She simply overreacted to life’s stressors.

  • all too easy

    “In a society where hatred, egotism, and deceit are the common currency of human relations, one can either retreat to the margins, to a grave, or allow oneself to be initiated into the wicked ways of society and internalize the rules that obtain therein.” Clad A Pusss
    Wrong. Again. Many other options exist. Your points of view are weak, not thought through, lazy and childish.
    Get real. Grow up

  • cledwyn bulbs

    Obviously I agree with the stress laid on childhood experience in shaping our view of ourselves and other people, for it is in childhood that the impressions we receive from the world are the strongest, leaving such an indelible imprint on one’s view of self and the world that it becomes almost impossible to shake it, for when the contours of the present map onto those of the past and through this correspondence are demolished the barriers that separate them, the traumatic experience of our youth is as if resurrected, and the impressions we received therefrom and the feelings associated therewith rush unbidden into the present and wash over us, carrying with it its alluvial deposit of negative thoughts and the salt it rubs into old psychic wounds.

    Taking up again the thread of my last post, as long as men live together, they will prey upon each other, drive each other nuts. A society of men is not like that of bees or ants, who work together in unison, the actions of each oriented towards a common good that is unanimously agreed upon, no; instead human society will always be riven by conflict, and underneath the mask of appearances, a war of all against all will always prevail, each waging his own battles in advance of the cause to which practically all men pledge allegiance, to wit, themselves, which men try to dignify by attaching to some cause outside of, though his love for these may be as proportionately great as the former, for the obvious reason that they reflect kindly upon he.

    This being accepted, anti-natalism is the only solution. One might as well send a child off to war and tell the bugger that war is a gift as cast a child into this world and tell him likewise.

    Examples of this pestilential vileness abound everywhere, yet is thrown into fullest relief whenever one actually comes across someone who is nice, when, wading through the excrement of human society, one comes across the odd pearl, someone who isn’t interested in you only inasmuch as he can profit from you in some way or insofar as you remind him of himself.

    People, when they aren’t accosting you in the street trying to con you (a phenomenon all too common in a society that frames personal gain as the summum bonum, which renders permissible all the hypocrisy, mendacity, and greed with which modern society is especially replete with the examples of), are ringing you up in your house, or are on the TV screen in some infuriatingly irritating advert lying to you in order to make money out of you.

    Then you’ve got the internet. It is like a receptacle into which men pour all their vileness. Everywhere people are being gratuitously rude to each other in ways that their cowardice won’t allow in face to face contact. Videos of others being humiliated in public get billions of views, and in the comments section attached thereto everyone has a good laugh, apart that is from the odd guy who comes in on his “high horse”, the odd dissenting soul whose dissent strikes an all too discordant note in the symphony of schadenfeude, a symphony of vileness, who refuses to drink from the poisoned chalice from which all men must gulp in order to survive and thrive in society. “Haha, look at this idiot being humiliated, haha”, they say, and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not them.

    “Whenever I happen to be in a city of any size, I marvel that riots do not break out every day; massacres, unspeakable carnage, a doomsday chaos. How can so many human beings coexist in a space so confined without destroying each other, without hating each other to death?”

    E.M. Cioran

  • all too easy

    You are not a martyr nor a saint.

    For you to pass judgement on everyone is the same evil as all others passing judgement on you. You find in others a reflection of your image. Make a decision to stop feeling sorry for yourself 24/7. Take a few moments each day to view the world in a positive light.
    He who wants friends must be friendly. You, cloddy v puss are not helpless, nor harmless, nor that special.

  • all too easy

    “It should also be noted that psychiatrists routinely stigmatize domestic, work, school and other abuse, bullying and mobbing as delusional, ADHD and bipolar per Dr. Carole Warshaw, Dr. Heinz Leymann, Psychologist and many others. Such abuse is frequently inflicted by sociopaths/narcissists who destroy people with impunity while aided and abetted by what I call the mental death profession as a result. In my opinion, one of the reasons psychiatry/psychology became so corrupt is that it became infiltrated and hijacked by what Dr. Robert Hare calls intraspecies predators…”
    Who’s deluded? Intraspecies Predators? You mean like Clod Hopper V. Pusss?

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’stard

    As for grandiose delusions, you show me a man who isn’t grandiosely delusional, and I’ll show you either a corpse, or someone very depressed by the crippling sense of his own nullity. A man who isn’t daily nourished by delusions of his own importance and superiority is a suicide in the making, in that almost everything a man says announces to the world his sense of his own importance, a self-importance that always turns out to be out of all proportion to the reality.

    The problem is is that the mental patient “suffering” from such delusions of his own importance expresses the worth he attaches to himself too directly usually prohibited under pain of social death, though special dispensation is evidently granted to certain privileged individuals, such as sportsmen who claim they are god or the king of the world or other ideas that put down roots in minds of almost puke-inducing pointlessness; or contestants on shows like the Apprentice; or cretinous, dissolute celebrities and tyrants, that is, talking chimpanzees who think themselves important just because they are famous amongst other talking chimpanzees or because they rule over them.

    Due to the impropriety of self-praise, man’s self-love and the fanatical faith in himself it gives rise to must, as with so many other aspects of human nature driven underground by the rules of modern civilized societies, adopt numerous disguises if they are to evade captivity, so they find their way to the surface of conscious life, and roams free within its boundaries, through man’s immense capacity for dissimulation and dissembling, wandering abroad in whatever purloined plumage the proprieties of polite society requires.

    Without an over-inflated sense of his own worth, a man’s tongue, and the fingers he uses and abuses to set down his thoughts on paper or to circulate them in cyberspace would all fall into desuetude, and in consequence wither and atrophy.

    For it is man’s sense of his own worth and of the worth of human existence that impels him to action.

    Just about every remark a man makes about a work of art, which he expresses with all the subtlety, modesty, and sensitivity of a fire-and-brimstone preacher fulminating anathemas, betrays its origin in his grandiose self-importance.

    Then you’ve got religious beliefs in that figment of amour-propre, heaven, the fantasy of sentient worm-food with delusions of divinity.

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’stard

    That should be “and in a manner usually prohibited under pain of social death….

  • The Right Hon. Cledwyn B’stard

    And “roam”.

  • all too easy

    Your beliefs that religious beliefs are bologna are unsophisticated speculation derived from a self-absorbed, media dominated secular bent without sound, scientific data.

  • Cledwyn’s Pus Poetry

    Perhaps the most common delusion that escapes the cold light of scrutiny is the belief in providence, most clearly seen amongst people who impute their success and good fortune to the operations of a deity.

    A case in point is the heavyweight-boxer Tyson Fury, who, upon winning the world title, said that it was due to god that he had won.

    So let’s get this straight. God is indifferent to the suffering of the species, to those a prey to the elements, disease, man, fortune, and fate alike, but not to a bit of heavyweight boxing (though I’m sure he wasn’t best pleased at having to fork out the 20 quid pay-per-view subscription fee), not to the sight – offensive no doubt to the sensitivities of even the average chimpanzee – of two of Nature’s finest scandals cracking each others skulls open with abandon.

    Yet this is a mere drop in an ocean of frankly awe-inspiring stupidity and grandiosely delusional thought. Some football stars walk out onto the pitch making a cross sign with their hands whilst looking at the heavens – seemingly under the illusion that there is a pair of eyes somewhere in the clouds to meet their gaze – whereafter they commence the business of behaving like satanic apes.

    It would seem that god really did make man in his own image…. stupid, vulgar, and indifferent to suffering.

  • all too easy

    So suffering precludes the possibility that a personal God exists. He can only be real if he obeys the logical thinking patterns of a complete idiot like cladapus. IOW, he is, if he only allows a world in which there is only pleasure. Pure genius, worm.

    Meanwhile, you and I are the ones who demonstrate indifference to suffering.

  • Cledwyn’s Pus Poetry

    On Saturday night, people worldwide were supplicating the heavens, but god was out, for he’d gone down the pub to watch a bit of heavyweight boxing, and thence no doubt on to a celestial nightclub for a booze-up, for there is more joy in heaven when one heavyweight boxer winneth….

    No wonder god is so often found to be remiss in his providential duties; he’s too busy getting pissed and entertaining himself watching the spectacle of two fallen chimpanzees beating the crap out of each other. It all makes sense now.

    Such a belief as evinced in the aforementioned comments of Tyson Fury postulates the existence of a bumbling, maliciously stupid, piss-head god, a fallen deity who puked forth Creation in the aftermath of a celestial binge-drinking session.

    As far as being detached from the reality that stares them in the face goes, the man who believes little green aliens are out to get him must bend his knee in deference before those in whom the idea has taken up residence of a providential or just dispensation. A bumbling or malign ordering of the world, and intervention therein, by an idiot god or a Gnostic demiurge? Perhaps. A world owing to “crass casualty”, as Thomas Hardy said? Likely. Anything else dissolves in the acid test of reality. The man who, in the face of this worst of all possible worlds, utters the ad hoc hypothesis that “god works in mysterious ways”, is a nonpareil lunatic who, perhaps in his desire to brown-nose his way into the good favor of god, has constructed a theodicical edifice of delusion built to glorify – like some hideous abstract cathedral – god and his creation.

    It is not for nothing that Cioran described “justification by Providence” as the “Quixotism of theology”.

    (The man who pledges a loyalty oath to god, life and nature, is a base and servile flatterer, no better than apologists for totalitarian regimes and evil institutions, than those who prostitute themselves to procure the patronage of gangsters and tyrants.)

  • Rob Bishop

    The absence of suffering is not necessarily pleasure. We tend to think in black and white, that there’re two states… either we’re happy or unhappy. Peace of mind is neither. A place called heaven, where there’s no suffering, is a popular delusion. And that delusion increases suffering. Anytime we want life to be different than what it is, we increase our suffering. Chasing and clinging to pleasure is suffering. Millions chase drugs, food, gambling, and shopping, yearning for fulfillment. If people are indifferent to suffering, it’s because they are ignorant of it. Misery is seductive and elusive. Deep in our heart, we are compassionate beings, but there’s a lot going on in our psyche that gets in the way.

  • Rob Bishop

    Boxing, ultimate fighting, and big time wrestling are evidence our evolution has stalled in some areas. We’ve developed enough intelligence to send a mission to Mars, but our attraction to violence remains steadfast.

  • Cledwyn’s Pus Poetry

    That Tyson Fury is delusional on another count as well; he believes that he loves everyone. Typical Christian, practices almost universal hatred, and preaches universal love. This is the same man who has recently been in the news for his splenetic spewings regarding homosexuality and the people who in consequence signed a petition protesting his inclusion in the nominations for a “Sports Personality Award”, people who – in a transport of love and fellow-feeling, no doubt – Fury called “wankers”, another example of the universal love Fury preaches, which finds expression also in cracking his opponents skulls open and in the many apocalyptic reveries he seems to be subject to when hatred of others consumes his imagination, to such an extent, he envisages a Doomsday in which the objects of his spleen are to be judged and sentenced to perdition accordingly.

    Now this delusion of universal love is very common, held by far too many people to come under proper scrutiny, it being the case that in every society there be a hierarchy of delusions wherein the further up or down you move through the intermediate ranks separating the uppermost from the lowermost, the greater or lesser the scrutiny the delusion is subjected to, each taking its place therein on the basis of the extent of the delusion’s propriety, popularity, or the power to evade its being accounted a delusion in lists thereof deriving from some such other source, such as the social status and reputation of the individual so deluded.

    Indeed, the psychiatric definition of delusion – like a drop of excrement in an ocean of shit that affords insight into the entire composition thereof – lays bare the true function of state psychiatry in society, for by strictly focusing on delusions that bear not the imprimatur of the power and convention, that is, on bizarre delusions held by people at the lower end of the socio-economic scale – a focal imbalance that corresponds to the imbalance of power – its function as a weapon of the powerful becomes apparent.

    Leaving this aside and picking up again the original thread of my discussion, the delusion of which the aforementioned degenerate chimpanzee’s comments are an irksome demonstration has reached somewhat epidemic proportions in our society, the world being full of people who profess love for others, love for “humanity”, usually in proportion as they actually hate both.

    Indeed, many of our attitudes attest to a profound misanthropy in our society. We hate irrationality, but people are irrational; we hate smelliness, but all of us emit unpleasant bodily odors; we hate ugliness, but men are ugly; we hate suffering, and see those who suffer, in truth, in unsympathetic terms, yet we all suffer; we hate anger, hatred and envy, yet they remain nestled within our depths; we hate misanthropy, but men are misanthropes, and so on and so forth. Not that people conceive of such disgust and hatred as misanthropy.

    Maybe Tyson Fury isn’t deluded; maybe he is fully aware of the hatred that moves him but, being fully aware of man’s prejudice in favor of words over the actions they often bear false witness on, he lies to lead others off the scent of the demons of his depraved depths, though this I doubt given his faith, a faith whose precepts are so impossible for any man to truly live in accordance with, that set such truly impossibly high standards, belief therein must be accounted symptomatic of a grandiosely delusional state.

    So no doubt such people truly believe their own shite. In this regards they are dangerously delusional, for it is only when a man has continually present in his mind his depths can he ever wage war against them. Whence the history of Christianity, of the human race itself, and which also in part explains the facility with which psychiatry destroys lives on such an epic scale, evil flourishing best in the shadow of righteousness.

    And as with evil, so with delusion. Only by having regularly present in our minds our own insanity can we ever gain some small measure of control over it. Whence the superlative, intractable lunacy of the sane, like Ronald Pies.

    Which brings me onto an aspect of this article with which I am not comfortable, for it seems to me that in the disproportionately great focus on things such as failure, it reproduces the focal imbalance mentioned hereinbefore.

    Whilst in no way disagreeing that failure (particularly failure defined in narrow social, romantic, and economic terms, against which most men measure themselves) can be productive of delusional ideas, there seems to be little mention of the way in which desiderata such as success, happiness, love, and an elevated stature, cannot only foster delusion, but perhaps more so than the setbacks, humiliations and frustrations of life.

    For les miserables, the spirit, borne on the wings of imagination to the heights of bliss and content, is soon brought crashing back down to earth’s shite, in bathetic descent. Not so for those of a more exalted status, whose spirit soars to the very stratosphere of delusion, to the furthest extremity of grandiosity, for the wings whereupon the spirit takes flight are not so easily clipped by reality when borne – in the spirit’s ascent – by the winds of popular opinion and sentiment, that when of a flattering aspect, conspires to puff up men with a sense of their own importance proportionate to their ultimate insignificance.

    Awareness of failure, as with other suffering, is much more likely to confront us with ourselves and permit insight thereinto than happiness, or awareness of success, or an elevated reputation, and so and so on forth.

    Suffering can be something of a purgatorial refinement, that partially cleanses a man of some of his impurities, of his wickedness, of his arrogance, permitting as it does insight what we are, our frailty, our mortality, and insight into the suffering of humanity itself, as well as the other species. King Lear illustrates this beautifully.

    I would argue that the such desiderata as mentioned before are less compatible with truth and virtue than great suffering and the experiences it attends.

    Happiness may feel good, but the notion that in the scales of human existence happiness and virtue are in equipoise, just isn’t borne out by experience. Likewise with its relation to truth, or at least those of the more profound variety. All happiness teaches us about are the positive aspects of human experience, yet to understand the world which we inhabit, we must suffer first because of it, for ultimately closer scrutiny of the world bears out the pessimist’s verdict. True, not all is suffering and injustice, but the very existence of the latter, and with still greater reason can it be said when they exist on such a great scale, indicts the world, it being about as logically and ethically sound to spin cosmodicies on the basis of the existence of some good – irrespective of whether it holds the bad in equipoise or preponderates thereover – as it is to try and vindicate Nazism and justify the Holocaust on the grounds that the former worked wonders for the German economy and lifted it out of a depression, or as it would be to canonize someone who preyed upon the vulnerable but who nevertheless indulged in charity.

    As for social stature, just look at psychiatrists. Their power and reputation has gone to their heads, has filled them with delusions of sanctity and sanity, making them almost impossible to reason with for the most part, so firmly lodged up their own backsides are their heads. Celebrities afford another example. All sorts of grandiose nonsense takes up residence between their ears. Hardly surprising that many of them believe in god and a providence especially concerned with their fate, and other assorted lunacies.

    As for beauty, men take more pride therein than they do in just about anything else, and pride never made anyone the wiser.

    Then there’s romantic love (a misnomer if ever there was one, for what could be more cynical than “romantic love”, whose business is conducted in a cynical marketplace of bodies in which each fleshly product is valued on the basis of carnal and mercenary appetites?). Just look at the aberrations that beset the faculties of man and woman alike when they find themselves in the service of this blind force of nature, and look how puke-inducingly conceited two people in love are!

    Leaving aside this discussion, there is another delusion that rarely figures in list thereof; our faith in the future. Like moles tunneling their way through a mountain of shite hoping to arrive at the stars, men blindly invest in the future, even though everywhere life proclaims its utter hopelessness, and the impossibility of ever arriving at the promised land.

  • Cledwyn Pus Poetics

    That should be “lists” in the last paragraph and merely “such desiderata” some paragraphs before.

  • Cledwyn’s Pus Poetry

    As I said in the last post – specifically where I compared investing in some state of future bliss or prosperity to a mole tunneling its way through a mountain of shit in order to reach the stars – this faith in the future is rarely anything other than delusional, and often as incongruous as a cow suffering from delusions of resettlement, in pastures Elysian, whilst being conveyed through an abattoir antechamber.

    Like a respirator, this faith in the future betterment of our lot, in sublunary salvation, stops the species from expiring from the suffocating emptiness and hopelessness of existence in times when at least some sort of future is conceivable, yet such delusions persist even in extremis, indeed, it is conceivable that if doomsday were to arrive, the day would follow its customary course save for the most disabused (depressives and pessimists), with people nevertheless going about their daily business amidst the encroaching darkness and chaos.

    Hitler, with his empire visibly and audibly crumbling around him, withdrew into fantasy, and up until the end hallucinated triumph on the horizon; Holocaust Jews, destined for the crematorium, were afflicted with delusions of resettlement. Sometimes reality simply puts too great a strain on men emotionally for it to be accepted, so that whilst it is true that adversity and suffering can bring insight, much more assuredly than prosperity and happiness, they can also lead to Polyannaism, to an optimism and positivity about things by no means borne out by the situation but that people take refuge in to escape the nightmare they are faced with.

    This faith in the future also has to be accounted one of the most dangerous delusions in some of its manifestations, such as when it holds in its grip the minds of Utopian visionaries and the masses of men enchanted by their visions.

    It is in chasing the ignes fatui of Utopian ideologues of varying religious and political persuasions that the species has been led into some of its blackest periods, periods wherein often, ironically, the very things men endeavored to rid the world of flourished.

    “The certitude that there is no salvation is a form of salvation, in fact it is a salvation. Starting from here, we might organize our own life as well as construct a philosophy of history history: the insoluble as solution, as the only way out…”

    Emil Cioran

    To forestall the impression of bias – and biased I no doubt am – it also must be conceded that negativity about life is not always free from distortion, and doesn’t always have a basis in reality. People, for example, who are cynical and misanthropic, it could perhaps be said become delusional in their hatred, which can be a powerful source of distortion.

    Cynics and misanthropes are often comparatively good people who, in order to avenge themselves on a world that makes a mockery of the finer feelings and noblest ideals and gestures, a world that largely bears out the truth of the epigram, no good deed goes unpunished, wage war thereupon. Shakespeare’s “Timon of Athens”, for example, traces this trajectory whereby men of a nobler stamp, like fallen Prince Myshkins, degenerate into monsters of cynicism, a cynicism that spares nothing.

    The truth is that it is impossible for any man to maintain an exact correspondence between his thinking and the reality as it presents itself to us, for the many reasons I have elucidated and enumerated in numerous posts. Yet men are gods unto themselves, and, to a greater or lesser degree depending on their arrogance and their stupidity, think in such terms, situating themselves intellectually at an Olympian remove from the rest of humanity, who are the rule to which they are the exception (even though, in the lucid intervals separating their bouts of madness, they may be capable of humility). Whence the fanaticism of men, from which none escape, for as soon as a man takes an interest in anything, the fever takes hold of him; thenceforth he spares no one who disagrees with him, who dares to do so, from his fanatical fulminations; everyone comes to seem to him mad, bad or stupid, irrespective of the importance or inconsequentiality of the subject from which the disagreement arises. So trying to get men to concede their own lunacy is an exercise in futility.

  • Cledwyn’s Pus Poetry

    Another example of a delusion that evades scrutiny by virtue of how utterly common it is, is the belief that suicide is easy. Whilst in some cases a frankly astonishing ignorance may account for such a patently absurd, utterly groundless belief, there can be little doubt that its existence attests to just how with what facility men are able to maintain beliefs that in no way correspond to reality, indeed, I find it hard to imagine that of all delusional beliefs there are many that are beset by such an abyssal gulf between themselves and reality, when surely experience presses home to each and every one of us just what a preternatural reserve of courage an individual must muster to be able to kill himself.

    To inflict a small wound, and a fortiori a fatal one, requires a courage most are incapable of. The average man recoils from even touching the end of a cigarette butt, yet will maintain in all seriousness that suicide is the cowardly way out, or will put the following question to the person who denounces life as an evil, as if he were playing the trump card and often with real malice aforethought (as if he were encouraging you to do it), “well, if that’s the case, why don’t you kill yourself?” (the assumption being that suicide is easy), a question about as stupid as saying to the man who airs the opinion that love is a torment, “well, if that’s the case, why do you go on loving?”.

    Quite clearly such a belief is wrong. Quite clearly, when a man comes into this world, he puts down roots therein that makes suicide just about impossible until against the motive to go on living fate and circumstance sets beside it a sufficiently strong counter-motive to desist therefrom and that preponderates thereover.

    ———————————

    It is not the truth of a belief that determines its value in the marketplace of ideas, but its desirability, the extent to which it serves a man’s needs, its support and advancement from “important” and powerful personages, and its popularity, this last being important because, in discussions of delusions – which almost always focus on those of a bizarre nature – and the origins thereof, the ovine tendencies of man figure little, if at all, even though men undeniably ignore the evidence of their senses because of this desire to conform, and thereby to partake of the emotional security it affords, inter alia.

    Indeed, this belief in the importance of truth in the scale of human values, insofar as is meant thereby those to which we actually conform, is itself delusional. Yet in societies wherein its members are ill-equipped emotionally to deal with their own lunacy – either by dint of some deep-seated shame about insanity or due to the stigma attaching thereto in societies held in the grip of a fanatical faith in reason and science – scapegoats are needed upon whose shoulders can be borne the weight of the madness of the species, and with it the shame with which men are inundated the moment they even begin to entertain the idea that, in some rare moment of self-honesty, that they too are mad, that the separation of the “mad” from the “sane” proceeds not along the lines of empirical inquiry, but corresponds simply to an imbalance of power which in the madhouse of human society – where every man is mad and drives each other mad – allows the lunatics on the right side thereof to run the asylum, so to speak, and to define “sanity” and “insanity” in terms as favorable to them socially and psychologically as they are detrimental to the interests of the so-called “madman”.

  • bulbous1

    Other delusions that escape the cold light of scrutiny are all those to do with “romantic love”, including not just those of which this particular madness is productive, but those that surround it.

    In this latter regards, there is the belief in human society that it is some sort of positive force in the lives of individuals. This itself has to be accounted one of the great delusions.

    Everywhere “romantic love” is poeticized and rhapsodized as the most beautiful thing, yet its business is as if transacted in a ruthlessly competitive marketplace that commodifies bodies, in which each fleshly product is appraised in the light of carnal appetites and mercenary considerations. Those who cannot compete therein are accordingly treated with no more consideration than any other inferior object in the marketplace of desire.

    All emphasis is laid upon the particulars of a person’s anatomy, and those attainments that lend flesh a certain luster and irradiation, such as wealth, power, reputation, status and all their accoutrements, around which men gather like flies round a honeypot (flying away with equal rapidity when the jar has been emptied of its sweet content), owing to their aphrodisiac properties or the advantages we might gain from them..

    It hardens the human heart to others, destroys relationships, burns hearts to a cinder, lends a saintly appearance to sinners, and though men may struggle against it, Cuipd’s corrupting counsel prevails.

    The most cruel thing about this part particular affliction is that it attains to its most insufferable dimensions, at the least providential moments – life kicking you while you are down -, when men and women are laid low by other misfortunes.

    The development of such feelings is contingent upon many chance circumstances (no one is “meant to be together). In better times, they may not go beyond pure physical attraction. For it to blossom most successfully into obsession and bear such poisonous fruits, love must be nourished by great personal suffering and misfortune.

    Misfortunes and the misery and frailty that attend them best prepare the ground for the incursions of Eros into the human heart, for when men are at their weakest, their most vulnerable, and are rendered most pliable to Cupid’s demands by their needs for human tenderness and sympathy to buffer the blows of inclement fate, fortune and circumstance, the desire takes root for someone to deliver you from your misery, for a savior whose providential intervention will restore you to a state of relative happiness. At such a time, the woman or man to whose person this desire for deliverance is localized appears to one as if he/she were a tutelary spirit, a cruel trick, for in truth such a person, at a such a time, is more akin to Hermes Psychopompos leading souls into the infernal nether-regions.

    Similar alchemical transfigurations of flesh occur in the minds of men in other situations. Look at the Fuhrer cult, for example. Years of economic and material hardship, national humiliation, paved the way for Hitler’s apotheosis. The people needed a messiah, and though Hitler himself fostered the Fuhrer myth through the careful management of his public image, employing to this end all the aids that the propaganda machinery could render, he was largely, I would surmise, merely enacting a role predetermined by the neediness and vulnerability of the German people at the particular historical juncture when he entered into the political life of the country, to its eventual detriment.

    Tears would come flooding forth at the mere mention of his name; the mere sight of him was enough to bring women to the ground in convulsions of sexual ecstasy. No matter how much evidence surfaced that their savior was an evil tyrant, nothing could disabuse the people of their delusions.

    A similar thing happens when people are in the bereavement period regarding psychics and religious figures.

    It can also be seen in the survivor movement. Your Whitakers, your Breggins, and so on and so forth, have become the focal figures of a cult of veneration.

    All are variations on the same theme. Men are easily deceived when circumstances so conspire to bring them low. When this happens, the need for a savior blinds them to reality. We should remember this when reading about Jesus in the Bible, which, contrary to the belief of its plenary inspiration, is clearly the work of drooling madmen, who saw a savior where there wasn’t one. No doubt “The Life of Brian” is much closer to the truth.

    All saintly individuals are merely the figments of men’s imaginations. Jesus? A bum. St Joan? A cheap little trollope who opened her legs to all comers, and a fanatic to boot (as was Jesus).

    Coming back to the love, it is little wonder that Proust in his “A La Recherche du Temps Perdu” wrote perhaps the best disquisition on the subject of the madness of thereof and the delusions to which its unfortunate victims are beset, for such was the torment it visited upon him, it exercised his thoughts to a monomanical extent.

    In him it must have reached its furthest extremity of insufferableness, being as he was of such a weak constitution, possessed of an imagination that foredoomed him to great misery, regularly beset by the suffering, physical and mental, that the more pachydermatous are for the most part fortified against,

    Demonstrations of the madness of love are to be found on almost ever page of his great novel, such as in the scenes wherein Proust exploits to great comedic effect the bathetic contrast between the sublime (and delusional) image we hold of the object of our amorous desire and the reality of her/his vulgarity, mediocrity and depravity.

    Cupid makes lunatics of us all. No more attire befitting for those in love than the straitjacket.

  • bulbous1

    The role of such things in the generation of romantic feelings is illustrative of the sovereignty of chance in love. Contrary to popular belief, no couple is foreordained by fate to fall in love (a grandiose delusion or error as conceited as those held by people who imagine a providence especially concerned with their fate, and a perfect demonstration of to what an extremity of stupidity and vanity Cupid conducts those whom he brings together in furtherance of Nature’s sinister ends).

    Instead, such feelings, their genesis and development, are contingent upon countless chance circumstances. The person for whom a physical attraction flowers into an obsession may, given a more providential arrangement of circumstances, have escaped it.

    The chance custom of wearing clothes, as Leopardi points out, has played a huge part in the evolution of romantic feelings, and likewise, some of the aids that current technology renders, which can so surround a person in a penumbra of mystery, it excites the imagination and stimulates desire.

    Likewise, the inner world of a person can become as if surrounded in a fog of mystery, owing to lack of proper acquaintance with them, or the barriers and distance that render inaccessible their depths, proper frequentation of which, early enough in the evolution of such feelings, might suffice to nip them in the bud, before a simple attraction develops into the sense that one beholds some creature of divine extraction.

    To divest the woman or the man of the mystique art and circumstance contrive to lend their person, one should keep continually before the mind’s eye the image of the depths they conceal, imagining oneself swimming in a pool of their secretions, wallowing in their excrement, letting one’s nostrils dilate with the thought of the bodily odors they emit.

    Yet just as knowledge of the composition of fire does nothing to stop or reduce the agony of burning to death, likewise with those fires that consume human hearts. The human heart – arch-traitor, supreme botched job, a spider in whose web of veins and arteries the mind lies helplessly entangled – wants it wants. Try as one might to keep continually present in one’s thoughts the hell that awaits two lovers, to which the battle-worn visage of the married couple always bears eloquent testimony; try as one might to imagine the sensual disenchantment that ushers in the conflict to which the path of love (a Via Crucis) leads, laying bare the will-o-the-wisp wherewith Cupid delivers two lovers into the clutches of Eris; or the tears of blood two erstwhile lovers now disabused of their errors must shed in expiation of their stupidity; try as one might envisage all this, the heart wants what it wants.

    —————————

    Equally silly and as often delusional as the notion that two lovers are predestined to meet (only man could entertain such conceited silliness, hence the idea of progress, and other beliefs that place man at the center of the universe) is that love is a union of two hearts, as if people fall in love with the hearts of other people! If that had been true, then the Elephant Man would have had a queue of suitors proffering their hand in marriage. A union of two hearts? More like a mutual exchange of flesh.

    Enough to knock your lover’s front teeth out or shave her hair off to fall out of love with her. In love, the principal seats of attraction are almost entirely to be found in the anatomy of the person and such extraneous details as the wealth, reputation and status of the individual – especially their status within the marketplace of desire, for the more are the admiring eyes that converge upon an object of amorous desire, the more contagious that desire becomes.

    ——————————–

    Regarding Cupid’s crimes, the worst surely has to be that it is largely owing to love that the species persists and proliferates beyond all reasonable bounds and out of all proportion to what is desirable.

    Such are the amnesic properties of the joy that love fleetingly brings, no matter how a man may have suffered theretofore, life comes to seem wonderful when in love, and nothing more natural than begetting children, until the day comes when, amidst the shattered remains of illusions lost, drunk on your own tears and vomiting them back them up, blood dripping from the hands you’ve just used to slay your former beloved, the realization dawns upon you that you’ve been duped. Or failing that, you take refuge in optimism about life, or some such other trivialization of injustice and suffering.

    Love leads to more life. What greater charge could be brought against it?