Monday, April 28, 2008

Are the Religous mad or demented? - Tanya Bryon.

Dr Tanya Bryon investigates the psychology of religion and suggests that religious thinking is either flawed, unbalanced, disordered, demented or plain mad. Should the religious be cases for treatment by psychologists? How is a street evangelist or schizophrenic any differant from a nun or a person praying? Why do we judge some as true believers and others as religious nuts? Clinical psychologist Dr Tanya Byron explores what some consider as the fine line between religious devotion and psychiatric disorder. She sees what happens when rational scientists try to analyse religious phenomena like Speaking in Tongues and Hearing Voices, and considers the beliefs of faith healers who claim miracles happen.

Partial transcript of programme:

1 min: Dr Tanya Bryon (TB) (wikipedia) "what place does religious belief which depends not on rational thinking or scientific proof, but simple faith, have in the modern world?" Religion has inspired beautiful art and bloody acts. Are people who devout their lives to something that can never be proved waisting their time? Is the very idea of religous belief evidence of flawed even demented thinking?
Are religious people mad?
Why does society respect nuns but ridicule a street preacher and label him as mad? How does a schizophrenic who hears voices in his head differ from a nun who hears the word of God?

Dr Tanya Bryon (TB) visits a religious rock concert. Sudden religious converts are having a breakdown - but this can bring happiness.
30 mins: TB "Does the simple fact of believing in something you cannot see make you a suitable case for treatment or should we base our beliefs on what we can proove to be true?"
31 mins Matthew Parris: "some people he has met, who have a fervour in their eyes and a quiver in their voice have either met God or they are unbalanced. I am inclined to the second explanation."

32mins: Is 'speaking in tongues' of The Pentacostals - a sign of God or a sign of disorder. Is it gibberish or the Holy spirit speaking?
42 mins: Normal language areas in the brain are changed. Can faith overturn the laws of science? Faith healing - touched by the power of god? Prof Chris French: "no follow up of miracles".
mins: Desperate (sick, simple, gullible) people can be attracted to irrational solutions (beyond provable fact) based on blind faith.
mins: Jeremy Vine
51 mins: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
mins: Casting out of spirits.
57 mins: TB "seeing religious faith up close can be an exhilarating experience. Only a fool would deny that a religous life and a devotion to a set of spiratual beliefs gives great confort and meaning to millions of lives. I think we are just beginning to discover how a religious belief effects the brain. Mental health officials should not be so quick to diagnose disorder. But we must be prepared to say show me the evidence or stop raising false hopes and until we have that evidence from those that claim miracles happen, vulnerable people may remain open to exploitation."

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