hallucinations and religious life

In the daily work of the neuropsychiatric clinic, hallucinations are a phenomenon of great importance for several reasons: first, they attract the attention of those who experience them, they cause anxiety, fascination or panic. Intellectual and emotional responses to hallucinations are very diverse, but people usually tend toward a state of disorientation and disorientation: when the experience is intense and continuous, it produces changes in thought, mood, interaction with the world. Some subjects withdraw or isolate themselves, others display a problematic repertoire of hallucinatory behavior.

In the form of a small moving image, I share the story of a patient, whom I will call Jade. He was in college, solving his graduation exams. Suddenly, he saw a man in a white jacket, blue jeans and sports shoes entering the classroom, who jumped up and climbed onto the table where my patient was taking his exam. Z looked down at the stranger, unable to detect any features of his face or features of his hair. This person started kicking her in the face, causing pain and surprise; Z arranged his arms in a defensive gesture, covering his face. The teacher yelled at him because no one else saw the aggressive man, and then Z realized it was a hallucination. He decided to ignore it and continued his examination, although the stranger standing quietly at the table did not disappear. When he took his exam, the man had disappeared. Although he studied hard (he was a good student), Z failed the exam and later dropped out of college.

Due to professional bias, my starting point in this lesson has been the clinical problem of hallucinations as a problem that requires medical or psychological attention. Fascinating book by neuroscientist Anil Seth (being you, 2021) reverses the formula for common sense by studying the functional architecture of consciousness. Dr. Seth proposes that the everyday construction of our subjective experience can be understood as a controlled hallucination: what we type into clinical practice as a hallucination is simply an “uncontrolled hallucination”.

My gaze is biased toward my daily contact with people who experience hallucinations or stage it through acts of high risk to themselves and others. But some do not necessarily go to a doctor or psychologist, and in fact they enjoy hallucinatory experiences because of their aesthetic dimension, because they cause feelings of calm or ecstasy, and because they seek to find the meaning of their lives. Enrich: Some assure that such experiences mean a full contact, effective, with spiritual realities that are absent in modern (scientific) rationality. There are also fascinating cases that transcend both dimensions: the harsh clinical reality and the founding experiences of mythological and religious thought. a vision of madness (MIT Press, 2020), by Wouter Kusters, takes place at that crossroads.

The magical thinking of communities still facing medicalization driven by modern rationality.

from this forum I start reading a new book by Xenia Yebenes Escardo: Visionary signal. to the prehistory of hallucinations (UAM-University of Rosario, 2021). Those who haven’t read it should know that Yebenes is one of Mexico’s most outspoken thinkers. His philosophical work addresses the processes of religious change, secularism, and post-secularism… the epistemological and interpretive battlefields where strained relationships exist between religion, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis. in his book impossible figures, the author explores the intersection of mysticism, art and contemporary thought; In spirits and their world Studies the concepts of subjectivity and insanity in modern Mexico. visionary clues… takes the place of absence as its starting point, at the foundation of modernity, of the absolute belief of the presence of the divine, “independent of theological theological realities”. Academics, says Xenia, arrive at the mystical under the assumption that they are symbolic resources that express social needs. Psychiatrists, I would add, regard mystical and religious hallucinations as manifestations of psychopathology (schizophrenic or bipolar). In both cases, sociological and psychological (patho) logical readings are based on an explicit or implicit ontology: gods are symbols of social necessity, hallucinatory experiences, or delusional ideas. Its presence, its fundamental reality, is not imagined.

Xenia Yebenes contacts 16th- and 17th-century Christianity, the discourses of those who describe the presence of spirits and direct contact with the presence (or with the voices) of God and Satan. He quoted the Cambridge scholar Germán Berios, who recalls—Inu History of symptoms of mental disorders– that these experiences were lost as a result of their progressive medicalization during the 18th century. some incidents psychosomatic The symptoms of mysticism were reduced frenzy In Charcot’s Fundamental Neuroscience, who argued that Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Avila were “incredible maniacals” capable of healing the manias of others. If the Sacred Inquisition is classified as witchcraft, then some of the different behaviors that can be imagined today within the psychopathological spectrum, Charcot and Paul Richer-in Les Demoniacs Dans L’Art— reinterpreted as demonic possession hysteria, This venerable category of medical mythology is rarely used today, but it is common for witchcraft to diagnose under the headings of psychosis or antisocial disorders, and for supernatural causes, popularly for states of malaise and isolation. In this sense, the territories claimed by Charcot are still in dispute: the magical thinking of communities still faces medicalization by modern rationalization.

in front of pathologyIn , Xenia Yebenes takes a critical approach: she communicates with a tradition of skeptical masters who have questioned the religious traditions of Western culture and the certainties of medical discourse (Freud, Foucault, Lacan). Inan illusionary futureIn , Freud discusses the horizon of the post-religious era of culture. Some thinkers, against the current of materialistic rationalism, have offered an explanatory of faith before the symbols of the sacred: Carl Jung, Mircia Eliade, Carl Kereny and members of the circle of Arranos. I wanted to know Yebenes’ position against the thinkers who claimed to be the original sources of arithmetic while wandering through the academic settings of the 20th century.

A bold question throughout his book follows: What would it mean, by modern methodological standards, to consider “the formal power of visionary attendees spoken by the subjects of our academic inquiry”? Yebenes develops a careful inquiry between hallucinations and the difficult paths of religious life, a relevant investigation for those of us who practice clinical and must be attentive to recognize the limitations of pathology.