The corruption of reality : a unified theory of religion, hypnosis, psychopathology by John F. Schumaker (1995) pdf
Thinkers continue to be puzzled by what will be the central topics of this book, namely religion, hypnosis, and so-called abnormal behavior. The fundamental nature of each remains a mystery despite a long history of debate and scientific investigation. While all three phenomena are highly complex in their own right, the reason for our persistent ignorance is quite simple. Our general approach has been to attempt understandings of these aspects of behavior within their own confines. To do so is to limit one’s knowledge to the vocabulary and concepts indigenous to these different areas of study.
Over time, these take on a life of their own, one that is self-sustaining and largely immune to competing propositions. However, each comes into a new focus when examined in the broader framework of overlapping manifestations of behavior. As we explore religion, hypnosis, and psychopathology in each other’s light, it becomes clear that they are part of a single story, namely, the regulation of reality.
Our quest for a broad-based understanding must also take us beyond the body of knowledge that is available to us within our own culture. To this end, I will examine these topics as they present themselves in different cultural settings. In so doing, it will become apparent that, despite many superficial differences, the same general picture emerges in virtually all cultures of the world. It has been the tradition in the social sciences to direct their attention to the differences that exist between cultures. Without question, much has been learned from such investigations.
Yet we have done this to the point almost of excluding from our studies those aspects and elements of culture that are constant. Radical cultural relativists sometimes deny the existence of universal explanatory mechanisms. This precludes the development of any unified theory of human behavior, and limits our knowledge to the differences that exist across cultures. My approach will be to continue to explore variations in behavior while attempting to show that common forces exist in all human cultures.
Our journey will also take us across the unfortunate lines that separate academic disciplines. While I was schooled in psychology, and in particular clinical psychology, 1 would be the first to concede that there is a need to draw on knowledge from other related fields. These include sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and the biological sciences. All these fields have an important place in the theoretical formulation to follow.
At the heart of my thesis is the firm conviction that the theoretical and conceptual boundaries between religion, hypnosis, and psychopathology are largely artificial. I also believe that recent advances in all three fields have paved the way for an Migrated model. In showing that all three are variations on the same theme, I will give special attention to a fascinating cognitive process that represents the key common denominator in all three behavioral categories. This is the dissociation-suggestion mechanism that has itself been shrouded in mystery, myth, and errant assumptions.
When these are swept aside, this unique ability reveals itself as the pivotal process enabling humankind to regulate what is here being called “reality.” Since reality is also a controversial construct, let us begin with a discussion of this slippery term.
1. The Problem of Reality
2. The Mechanics of Dissociation and Suggestion
3. Hypnosis in Global Perspective
4. Religion: The Cultural Mask of Sanity
5. Psychopathology: New Perspectives
6. Treating the Individual and Society
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