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Thread: Christianity, Scientology, & Psychotherapy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Christianity, Scientology, & Psychotherapy

    Seeking Salvation

    Christianity is based on soul-body dualism.
    The soul is pure, transcendent, eternal.
    The body is flawed, base, something to be subdued.
    From the body, the cardinal sins arise: lust, greed, pride, gluttony, wrath, envy, sloth.
    Matters of the flesh are seen as dirty.
    But it's human nature to engage in any of these - and so man is eternally guilty, and must constantly repent.
    Nietzsche calls this anti-life morality and argues that religion stifles the potential of man by denying him his base desires & making him rely on God.

    All successful religions operate the same way, they claim that you are flawed and thus need to be saved. Scientology is no different. They first make you take a diagnostic test which invariably tells you you are depressed. They use an e-meter to measure your thetan-levels, then tell you the various ways you're a fuck-up. I had a chance to talk to some scientologists at their store. The guy said he used to be very unhappy, but scientology guided him to a better life. His sorrows are buried underneath a towering and overwhelming institution. Then he showed me some videos of scientology beliefs - it was an exact rehash of the pop psychology of anxiety, stress, and PTSD, but they made up their own terms.

    I feel like psychotherapy, then, is a form of treatment of a secular religion. There are mild pathologies like jealousy, sorrow, anger, etc. that come naturally in the human condition. If we experience these pathologies in excess, then we want to be "saved" from them. I don't think I've met anybody who, if interrogated deeply enough, didn't benefit from visiting a psychologist. Schopenhauer said that life is an oscillation between suffering and boredom. But then there is always the desire for salvation.

  2. #2
    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    I definitely like to consider religious principles for their self-helpy-psychological characteristics.

    I think Nietz' is sort of backwards, in that our base desires are what keep us dependent upon things. Denying ourselves the 'sins of the flesh' doesn't make us depend on God...or at least I don't see how it does. The non-attachment of a religion like Buddhism basically teaches a person to transcend the wants of the flesh and definitely doesn't facilitate dependence on any divine, yeah...I dunno about that, Nietz'...seems like you've just got a bone to pick with Christianity on that

    I see most religions and psychotherapy as vehicles for either taming or transcending the ego...purifying it through ritual and regulation, or subverting it(the ego) entirely by realizing one's own true nature as it is a priori to our ego's acquired programming.
    ...the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities...
    "The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong." ~Carl Jung

  3. #3
    tableau vivant MoneyJungle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Fool's Paradise
    The seven deadly sins are Catholic malarkey from the middle ages. Jesus ascended, body and all. He probably didn't fuck, but he did drink and whoop money changer ass, when he wasn't hanging out with prostitutes and corrupt tax collectors. I'm not saying that atonement doesn't play a huge role in xtianity so much as there's an accompanying message that God created you in His image and loves you. It's downright incoherent and therefore not a monolith of shaming. It just sort of turned out that way after the Roman Empire collapsed and the Catholic Church was the only infrastructure left to maintain some kind of law and order.

    It's the obligation of any authority to stifle man's 'base desires.' Otherwise you have lawlessness. I think you're right that psychotherapy is the latest iteration of this. Murder is ascribed to mental illness all the time. What used to be evil is now seen as a result of bad parenting or brain chemistry gone haywire or social phenomena. It's tough to argue with the success of psychotherapy because the world is really more peaceful than ever.

    I didn't find my years of therapy particularly helpful in retrospect but it's a matter of faith or lack thereof. Sure I matured, but that happens when you do anything for several years. I wouldn't mind having those thousands of dollars back. Of course, these thoughts can all be written off as my failures as a patient, much like me just not believing in Jesus enough. I don't foresee ever giving another shrink a dime but never say never.

    Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?

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