Thursday 26 December 2019

The validity and insanity of paranoia and megalomania

Paranoia (with delusions of persecution) on the one hand, and megalomania (with grandiose delusions of significance) are partial and selective distortions of our genuine importance in the divine scheme. They are insane insofar as they suppose that everything depends on us; but true insofar as they recognise that we each personally make a difference to everything.


Matthew T said...

Gee Bruce, this is very touching and intriguing to me, because as a matter of fact I have thought about this question a lot - and more so lately!

Quite recently I had the opportunity to meet Someone From the Internet. We had a good talk about sundry things, including the fact that we both have a habit of lying in bed at night wondering if we are crazy; if all the bad stuff we see happening in the world could really be leading where we think it's leading. That is something that I really do, personally; I really sit around sometimes, deep in thought, and ask myself, "Could I be wrong about what's going on?"

But to take it a step further - I also ask myself the questions in the OP. I have not ever read any writer who asks these same questions, but I expect the use of technical medical jargon likely precludes the topic for most people besides psychiatrists or other medical folks.

At the end of the day it' s just interesting to me that you posted this because I have literally lately been asking myself questions like:

-am I psychotic or schizophrenic for seeing Things Going On that (apparently) other people don't see?

-am I under delusions of grandiosity, megalomania, etc., for thinking that the Divine might have selected me for some mission or role in combating it all?

It's treading on the field of epistemology, "how do we know what's real", where is the line between sanity and insanity, etc. But I do believe the answers are NO, we aren't crazy, and YES, God does assign us roles if we accept them.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT - In psychiatry as it used to be - insanity was 'always' associated with a lack of insight; so an insane person would not ask themselves whether they might be insane.

What counts as a delusion is culturally conditions. It used to be a delusion if (for example) a biological man was convinced he was a woman - but that has changed, and now society must conform to that belief.

Epimetheus said...

Interesting. I sometimes get the sense that my whole life takes place on an unseen stage, with an audience and so on. This frequently strays into fantasies of being famous, at the centre of attention etc.

You think there's a kernel of truth in there?

Matthew T said...

@E - I do think there's a kernel of truth there, and I would say this is a case, like many others, where spiritual "instincts" don't lie (why should they be lying?).

Thanks for the reassurance about my sanity, Bruce.

Bruce Charlton said...

@E - From Steiner and Barfield I got that we began our mortal lives aware that were are spontaneously 'interceonnected' - or rather, that our 'selves' are not fully differentiated from the single consciousness.

It is only as we reach adolescence that we develop such as to be cut-off from immersion in the general consciousness; and most people become arrested at that stage of development; mistaking their subjective experience of cut-offness for objective reality.

The psychotic or intoxicated person (or otherwise consciousness impaired) experiences an involuntary breakdown of this self-imposed cutoffness - but the pathological cause of that deragement of consciousness also typically imposes a passivity and dysfunctionality.

What I hope for and seek (through Romantic Christianity) is (sometimes) to experience the state of consciousness beyond being cut off - when we consciously and voluntarily re-join the general consciousness; but this time in freedom.

And that is the situation in Heaven; and resurrection is what makes that state permanent.