It appears the Western governments are describing the various fatal attacks by Muslims shouting Alahu Akbar as incidents of mental illness; This observation has been repeated by various commentators in blogs and conservative web sites.
Strangely the various authorities are right. Religion can be viewed as a mental illness if religious thinking is viewed as a specific pattern of thinking using ossified ideas, or as Karl Marx might have put it, a mind habituated by the intellectual opiate of religion.
Being habituated by specific thinking patterns seems no different to being habituated by alcohol or drugs such as crystal meth, opium, dope etc. The role these habits play is as an escape from the present here and now, a sort of physical cognitive dissonance as it were. That is, thinking is an attempt to escape physical reality itself; being lost in thought, as it were, unaware of the reality of the here and now.
Daily Telegraph journalist Tim Blair has inadvertently focussed on this with his post of 22 August, 2016, “One Job”, in which he contrasts the almost superhuman devotion by athletes and airline pilots, for example, to focus their attention on the immediate task in hand, by absolute concentration, whether a high jump, cricket innings or trying to save the passengers in an airplane emergency.
Tim has pointed to the tragedy of the Lindt Cafe incident from the inquest where the Sydney police were focussed more on how their actions might bear on distractions, rather than solving the immediate task in hand. As in what if we rush and and kill the armed man, will this action result in a backlash against Muslims?
This is a classic case of avoiding the here and now by thinking about some future event rather than acting immediately in the here and now.
As if an airplane pilot was going to think about the ramifications of the plane crashing, and how this impending accident might impinge of the passengers, or whether anyone on the ground might be traumatised by the sudden appearance of the airplane at ground level.
As Tim so aptly puts it, the key task in any emergency is to remain in the present – not to be bothered with any distracting concerns about what might happen or could happen or won’t happen.
It is essentially the idiocy of the precautionary principle and its sibling, political correctness. Modifying one’s behaviour, which explicitly means thinking how one is to behave, is simply being politically correct; an obsession with the future. Politically correct that one’s actions not breach any of the myriad regulations authority imposes on individuals; religion in other words.
Whether that authority is secular or theological, predetermining one’s behaviour is essentially escaping from the exigencies of the here and now by thinking of what one’s actions might result in afterwards.
While it is necessary to think in order to act, being habituated by a specific thinking pattern is another matter. Intellectual habituation is really no different to physical habituation, and as much an illness as drug addiction. So in a sense the authorities are right, those individuals hell bent on murdering others are mentally ill, but what escapes the authorities are the origins of the various religions people are habituated on. It is significant that the religion of Islam appeared from the mists of the dark ages of the first millennium CE, and it is to those times that solutions to the present day madness might be found.
Update: Socialism is a religion, by the way, the obsession with a future materialistic utopia, as opposed to the theocratic utopias in the here-after.