Imagine a person who withdraws from the world and unrealistically wants things “just so” — to be perfect. This person cannot accept reality and demands to live in their own view of paradise, seeing the real world as hostile to their fantasy of the ideal. This person will go to strident lengths to oppose anything that comes between them and their ideal existence. This person will pronounce doom and hate on the real world, certainly withdraw from it, and openly criticize and condemn it. Sometimes this person will cruelly hurt others in doing this, without any real empathy for the feelings of others. This person will justify all this stance by seeing itself as part of a truly blessed or chosen few who truly understands a higher or deeper wisdom, even believing they have been chosen by that wisdom or higher destiny to be one of the elect few who truly understands the world and how things should be and could be.
The person views itself as a light or potential enlightener in a dark place where all others are ignorant and fundamentally hostile to their truth. In this person’s superior wisdom and election, this person will often demonstrate their uniqueness by withdrawing from many of the normal habits and customs and language that bind their former associates and friends and family. There is only one truth and this person is “in it”, its true representative. All but a handful of others are hostile and ignorant, potentially threatening and destructive, and thus enemies, potential persecutors. Truth is absolute and there can be no compromise.
This person sees in their body the potential to be destructive, evil, promiscuous and violent. This person thus sees their own body as in some way related to evil and shame, with the need therefore to exercise extreme controls over their every thought and impulse. This person sees themselves as creatures of shame and loathing, only finding good in their ideal, which they need to fully embrace or absorb to partly quench their base natures. For men, women can be a particular problem. Objects of desire and temptation, but also of one their most fundamental needs, special attention needs to be devoted to keeping this gender in a special place of subjection — both with internal mental battles as well as with expecting rules of dress and behaviour on women themselves. And those women who don’t comply are viewed as particularly base or lost in some way.
The mental controls to keep this person’s body under subjection to its ideal world may come through many hours of being busy doing higher works or responsibilities, or simply in prayer and meditation, or other disciplines. The moment this person relaxes these controls there is fear this person will itself become a devil incarnate, since this person sees itself as shamefully filled with devilish potentials waiting to unleash itself if it ever departs from its focus on its perfect ideal.
And all others who do not share this person’s vision of omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent ideals (the three characteristics of god, incidentally) are themselves living lives governed by unbridled or degenerate evil and passions. They must all come to see the world the way of this person does or die. If they do not listen and subject themselves to this person’s message they will remain in outer darkness. The whole world must one day either submit to the visions of this person, and eventually come to acknowledge the superior place of this person, or pass into oblivion. Hence the world is to be hated, except for those in it who come to acknowledge the superior calling and wisdom of this person and subject themselves to this person’s ideal world of behaviour and vision. Peace of mind will only come to this person when the whole world does things this person’s way, or acts laws that reflect this person’s ideals.
This person is so entrenched in this mentality that not even death will sway them — even the death of their own child, or scores of others, for whatever reason, if such can be seen as the will of the ideal in this world.
This person even craves the destruction of the world — and everybody in it — who does not meet their vision of perfection or their ideal. Though they may mask this craving beneath a more “loving” one of longing that all those people, instead of dying, come to submit to themselves to living in a way that will meet the standards of this person’s ideal world!
Is such a person mentally ill? In need of considerable counselling to assist them to better function in a more productive and positive way in the world, to establish normal wholesome relations with others, to regain a more wholesome positive self esteem as well, to repair damage done to their view and trust of others?
Yet if this is the sort of person who dominates much of the fundamentalist world of religion, viewing fundamentalism this way (as opposed to the superficials of specific dogmas) may point to what is needed to produce a healthier society that will itself be better able to handle the current social, racial, environmental and international crises.
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