Thinking that is Religious or Conservative: What’s Wrong?
What is wrong with religious and conservative thinking?
The theory I find best is my own perhaps. That is, unless you compare it to the theory of Arthur Janov. His theory is very probably more accurate as a neurological concept. My theory is simply that when our needs, and feelings related to them, are felt to be helpless, they are too painfully anxiety provoking to integrate in a fully conscious way.
When this occurs it tends to block creative, objective and altruistic empathy. This is present, to various degrees, in those who are deeply attached to religious and conservative styled thinking.
These needs attached to helplessness, forms what I call “pained need”. Such need becomes symbolized and generalized (distanced and spread out) in symbolic form. When this force allows sufficient or normal function in society, it supplies a symbolic struggle which can lower that overwhelming anxiety. (You might compare this concept to the theory of Arthur Janov.
When you grow up not feeling safe enough or loved enough by your caregivers, for whatever the reason, you might seek to “please” a super powerful deity.
Let’s now compare the impact of this “pained need” on the higher levels of our conscious mind or brain as similar to someone impacting an airbag in a car due to a crash.
The impact of the crash is distanced and spread out by the air bag and you would need a sufficient size of that airbag to handle the impact. This distancing in the brain would be the symbolizing of the need in terms of how distanced the symbol is, and the spreading out is the generalizing.
Let’s say you were traumatized by a cat. You might then be afraid of all cats (generalization or spreading out) and if the impact of the trauma was great enough you might be afraid of cat owners (the distancing or symbolization).
So, helplessness begetting anxiety which is too much to integrate, which is deeper and more unconscious than what is generally meant by fear, is the cause of religious and conservative thinking, IMHO.
Seeing and recognizing the unconscious fear in such people as embrace religious and conservative thinking is, to me, a “spot on” and very insightful observation.
Allow me to say that we can also see an analogy between the size of an airbag and the effective neuronal mass of the brain. This observation might give us yet another clue as to how hominids who survived such impacts gave rise to modern humans. Arthur Janov had said this long ago in fact and I highly agree, and hope my analogy helps to share this insight.
David “Mitch” Sotelo