General Question

hollym's avatar

Modern day "Saints" and visionaries.

Asked by hollym (304points) June 19th, 2008

Okay, so, this was inspired by a comment by shrubbery on this thread The comment was in regards to schizophrenia. I’m wondering if saints or seers or visionaries are really few and far between now a days because we treat visions and “unnatural” thought as crazy or unhealthy behavior. It seems to me that there used to be many more people who had visions or experienced extra-sensory perception before the advent of anti-psychotics and has decreased even more as the drugs are becoming more widely prescribed.

Do you think that the drugs are kind of blocking out people’s sixth sense or do you think that people back in the day were just nuts?

I hope no one thinks I’m nuts for asking this.

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8 Answers

shrubbery's avatar

I don’t think you’re nuts, I think it’s a great question, much better worded than my throwaway thought. I’m afraid I don’t have a concrete answer to this, I have been contemplating it since the first time me and my sister watched Donnie Darko though.

Harp's avatar

There are many clinical examples of how injuries or pathologies in the brain can cause extraordinary abilities to manifest. Lightning strikes have caused musical talents to be revealed, for example. Strokes have opened up spiritual insights. Aphasiacs (who don’t possess the ability to process verbal communication) develop uncanny meta-communication skills. There are parts of the brain that have a restraining effect on other parts, so if that restraint is removed, unsuspected phenomena emerge.

The rest of us, onlookers to these aberrations, interpret them by culturally relative measures. We think it’s marvelous that the poor guy who got fritzed by lightening now has wonderful music spilling out of him, but how different is that really from someone who sees visions? In the end, how we evaluate these extraordinary experiences based on our societal norms. The esteemed Tibetan oracles who go into a writhing trance to locate reincarnated lamas would likely be put on meds in our culture. And yet the lamas are found, according to the Tibetans. I’d be reluctant to argue with that, personally.

The guys in the park carrying on conversations with invisible interlocutors may be delusional, but I wonder if we “normal” folks don’t give ourselves a bit too much credit when it comes to knowing what’s “real” and what isn’t.

syz's avatar

Let me preface this by saying that I apologize if I offend anyone’s religious sensibilities:

I finally watched “The Last Temptation of Christ” a few months ago. I spent the first 3/4’s of the movie wondering what all of the hullabaloo was about (and then finally figured it out), but mostly I came away from the movie thinking that it very clearly portrayed someone suffering from schizophrenia.

As an atheist, my personal opinion that much of religious lore is based on mental illness. It explains so much….

bethanski's avatar

I certainly think that visions, supernatural things, and events that have no explanation (some would classify these as “miracles”) tend not to happen in the First World very often anymore. Third World countries still have a great number of all of these occurrences. There could be a connection with prescription medication and the stigma surrounding mental illness, but I also wonder if much of the disappearance of the supernatural has to do with the increase of scientific knowledge and understanding.
It is a very interesting question, and until we can figure out exactly what the brain does, I think we may be out of luck as far as finding concrete answers!

marinelife's avatar

@syz I disagree. The impulse to explain the world, the meaning of life, etc. via religion is far too widespread in human beings to be attributed to metal illness.

@bethanski You just need to come to Florida. Why, just before I left town people were lining up at the chapel of the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital to see the image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, I can’t remember which) in the condensation on the inside of the chapel window that was appearing every night.

willbrawn's avatar

I believe that there are Prophets and Apostles still on the earth. With the gift from God to know things of the past, present, and things to come. God
is not gone so gifts from
him certainly or not gone.

shilolo's avatar

@Syz. I couldn’t agree with you more.
@Marina. The fact that people who lacked clear scientific insight attempted to explain natural phenomena by invoking a higher being is understandable. Seasons, weather patterns, volcanoes, hurricanes, eclipses, diseases, plagues, etc. all come to mind as things that could not be explained in the distant past. Thus, people sought solace and refuge in the notion that god(s) was manipulating their lives in unseen ways. Now that we can explain many if not all natural phenomena, its is harder and harder to accept theocratic doctrine. Despite that, we continue to have new “prophets” whose mental status is unclear seeking to enlighten us . Why, just in the last 50 years we have multiple “prophets”, ranging from David Koresh to L. Ron Hubbard.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

They were nuts or attention seekers.

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