Hearing Voices and Other Matters of the Mind: What Mental Abnormalities Can Teach Us About Religions

Oup Usa (2020)
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Abstract

Hearing Voices and Other Unusual Experiences examines the long-recognized and striking similarities between features of mental disorders and features of religions. Robert McCauley and George Graham emphasize underlying cognitive continuities between familiar features of religiosity, of mental disorders, and of everyday thinking and action. They contend that much religious thought and behavior can be explained in terms of the cultural activation of humans' natural cognitive systems, which address matters that are essential to human survival: hazard precautions, agency detection, language processing, and theory of mind. Those systems produce responses to cultural stimuli that may mimic features of cognition and conduct associated with mental disorders, but are sometimes coded as "religious" depending on the context. Their approach promises to shed light on both mental abnormalities and religiosity.

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Robert N. McCauley
Emory University

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