Brent Meeker writes:
> This is very similar to the arguments of people with religious
> convictions, who will cite evidence in support of their beliefs up to a
> point, but it soon becomes clear that no matter how paltry this evidence
> is shown to be, they will still maintain their belief. The difference is
> that these people do not change their way of thinking in response to
> antipsychotic medication.
Have you tried it?
The local Mental Health Act forbids involuntary treatment of someone for their
religious beliefs, but there are grey areas, for example in cases of religious
conversion, where the family claims the patient has gone mad but the patient
and his new friends insist he is just exercising freedom of worship. I have to
admit, in all such cases I can recall the family is correct, even when there are
no other obvious signs of mental illness, and the patient continues to deteriorate
unless treated. I guess the family pick up on subtle changes in personality in
addition to the religious conversion. But where a patient is started on an
antipsychotic and has an incidental, long-standing religious (or other odd)
belief, the medication seems to make no difference to that belief.
Functionally, a (primary) delusion seems to bypass the mechanism whereby
we take in empirical evidence, process it logically, and arrive at a conclusion
or belief: that is, delusions create a ready-made belief, in the same way as
hallucinations create a ready-made perception in the absence of a sensory
stimulus. Normally acquired religious beliefs differ in that there is "empirical
evidence" which is "logically processed", even if that evidence is that it says
so in the Bible and your parents taught you that the Bible doesn't lie. We
have drugs for psychosis but there is no drug that stops you being gullible.
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