June 02, 2009

Do You Have Beliefs That Others Consider Strange or False?

I'm participating in a set of medical studies as a healthy control.  This means that I'm the healthy person that they compare their other subjects to.  They have to take my blood and give me MRI and PET scans and things like that because the studies are part of the Functional Brain Imaging something something.  It's kind of neat.

Anyway, this week, I went to the clinic for more tests and part of it was a mental health survey or something and this lady had to ask me a bunch of questions.

The questions were obviously screening for various mental problems like schizophrenia and paranoid delusions. 

"Do you hear people saying your name when no one is around?"
"Do you receive secret messages telling you how things will be arranged in your life?"

Actually, I don't know if I was asked that second question because the lady was not a native English speaker and her accent was very thick.  Her proficiency in English actually led to a problem later in the survey.

She asked me, "Do you have any beliefs that others regard as strange or false?"

I laughed because as an Objectivist, I am perfectly aware of the fact that much of what I believe is regarded as extreme, strange, false, and even evil.  So, I said, "Yes."

So, she asked me to provide an example.  I said, "Well, I'm an atheist, for instance.  I don't believe in any magic or ghosts or anything, but I see people on television who do believe those things.  I'm sure they think I'm strange or false for not believing that."

But she didn't understand the term "atheist" and so she started scribbling notes, I assume about ghosts and magic and people in the television.

She asked, "What do you think about that?"

"About what other people think about what I think?" I laughed again, "I think they're wrong, but I don't understand why that's important."

Something about what I said struck her as odd, so she backtracked.

"Can you tell me more about this, ayteeism?"

"What do you mean?  There's not much to tell."

"I don't know.  I've just never heard the word.  Can you spell it?"

"Sure. A-T-H-E-I-S-M. I don't believe in god.  In fact, I think faith is wrong.  I think science is the appropriate method for people in life. So, I don't believe in magic or ghosts or anything like that.  But there are a lot of people who disagree."

That made it clear for her and she started furiously crossing out her notes.

Apparently, it is perfectly and equally sane to believe that there are invisible spirits and forces beyond your perception and understanding affecting your life as it is to reject such foolishness out of hand.

I would like to suggest that mental health professionals screen for people of faith and dig into thata bit more extensively.  After all, the difference between sane and insane in matters of faith doesn't seem to be the content or even the extent to which the individual applies these ideas to their life, but the number of people who agree to be the same brand of crazy.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 10:00 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Category: Mythology and Modern Man
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Posted by: jmk at July 14, 2010 08:16 PM (RYfpw)

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