Hyper-religiosity: BKs, Lekhraj Kirpalani and mental illness?

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Hyper-religiosity: BKs, Lekhraj Kirpalani and mental illness?

Post07 Mar 2017

Let's continue to consider for one minute the possibility that Lekhraj Kirpalani *also* had some kind of mental illness, possibly induced or exacerbated by a number of known influences in his life;
    the expensive "initiation" into some kind of siddhi by the saddhu he met in Bengal, after which his life changed,
    the traumatic effect of WWII and the collapses of his beloved British ruling class in India and, perhaps,
    some kind of mid-life crisis that saw him give up his wife and career to marry a teenage relative, while setting himself up as Krishna to a harem of young women as his gopi worshippers.
Putting aside all the crazy, entirely erroneous (even from a BK point of view) and hugely egotistical claims he made about himself within the first 20 years of the cult, I believe there are many signals in his life story to suggest this, most of the all the response from his own family (who essentially "sent him away to have a mental nervous breakdown" right at the start of his cult), the reaction from his community to the strangeness of his behaviour.

I write, "also" because I am not trying to deny any additional mysteriously spiritualistic, hypnagogic or psychic element to his cult ... I just strongly doubt it is "God" doing it as they claim to believe, it's just considering where there is any chance that,
    a) he *also* suffered from some kind of mental illness, and
    b) BKism is some kind of ritualised mental illnesses, a religion made out of and made to mask his mental illness, and their collective "folie".
A folie being made even more obvious as his numerous predictions fail, and the current "spirit medium of God" Sister Gulzar's mind fails. (The latest I have read is that some BKs are already starting to claim the 12 ... 40 ... 100 year Confluence Age is going to be 125 years).

One could argue that aside from any metaphysically claims they might make, the BKs have essentially learnt how to
    a) induce a kind of hyper-religious mania
    b) learnt how to manipulate and exploit individuals under said hyper-religious mania ... the "Intoxication Phase" or "Day's of [Spiritual] Childhood", as they euphemistically call it.

    I believe that there are other indicators the BKs have dressed up in their typically hagiographic habit; e.g. his tendency to "go beyond" or "go into silence". This is something reported by non-BKs around him ... that even in the middle of company or a conversation, he would "disappear" into silence and disconnect from everyone around him. Perhaps, with this, the "two engines in one body" theory to his vigor related to a hyper-manic tendency? I don't *know* but I could not exclude it. Perhaps the repetitiveness and disordered of his 'stream of consciousness' ramblings the BKs have formalised into "Murli" scriptures suggest another obsessive symptom (e.g. how many times does one *really* need to told "Krishna is not God"? I defy the BKs to hand them unedited to a real philosopher or poet and for them to find them "deep" or inspired).

    And lastly, perhaps most of all, the BKs defensiveness of him in the past, and even until this date. Even in the early history, he appears to play a 'backroom' role hiding from public interaction, with Om Radhe standing in for him as his proxy.

    Was this for the sake of community "politics", or was it because he was "down" or "out in space"?

    If one believes in spiritualism ... is the current mentality of BapDada an expression of him? Again, an open question.

    I throw this out as a start for discussion, as not just useful for examing Lekhraj Kirpalani but also referring to the "manias" of neophyte BKs ... encouraged manias which often cause much damage to their familial relationships and careers. Is there something in the BK collective consciousness which triggers such disorders. I am not saying "Lekhraj Kirpalani was mad". He was not, he was clearly highly functional in other areas or at others times ... but did he suffer, from time to time, from traumatic or episodic symptoms which they lacked the insight to recognised and the "Hinduism" of his level accommodated as being "divine"?

    From: 'The neurobiological basis of hyper-religiosity'. Author: Daniëlle Bouman of the Cognitive Neuroscience Department Psychology, Tilburg University. Note carefully the last, emphasised line.
    Hyper-religiosity is an excessive or extreme form of religiosity. In this paper, hyper-religiosity is considered a psychopathological form of extreme religiosity, which is mainly found in patients with a psychological or psychiatric disorder.

    The symptoms vary greatly among patients, with some patients experiencing only one of the symptoms while others experience a multitude of symptoms. The symptoms can also vary in degree of severity. Some symptoms of hyper-religiosity are visual and/or auditory hallucinations of God or other religious figures, feelings of being one with the world around you and/or God, intense emotions of God’s presence, and the conviction that you are chosen by God or another religious figure to carry out a certain task.

    What is striking about these symptoms is that the focus is not on central aspects of religion, like taking care of others, but on very specific, exaggerated tasks, emotions or perceptions.

    Admiting that "research done on hyper-religiosity is very scarce", the author looks at four categories; obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), and mania.

    Relating to OCD the author includes; scrupulosity or religious obsessions and compulsions. Relating to schizophrenia, they highlight religious delusions and hallucinations including;
      Persecutory delusions,
      Grandiose delusions, and
      Belittlement delusions.
    In grandiose delusions, patients tend to believe that they are very important people (good god, putting aside the god claims, the Brahma Kumaris are obssessed with "very important people") ... "so they might believe they are God, a prophet, or somebody who has been sent by God". Delusions of belittlement refer to feeling of being unimportant or unworthy, "which might be in relation to the belief that he or she has sinned".

    The manual on such illness (DSM-IV-TR 2000) describes five subtypes of schizophrenia;
      the paranoid type characterized by one or more delusions or frequent auditory hallucinations
      the disorganized type has flat affect, chaotic behaviour, and incoherent speech,
      the catatonic type is characterized by psychomotor symptoms, and extreme negativism, muteness or echolalia,
      the undifferentiated type has symptoms of schizophrenia, but does not match any of the aforementioned types, and
      the residual type is a less severe expression of schizophrenia with milder symptoms.

For Lekhraj Kirpalani, I'd tend to skip 'epilepsy', although it's certainly been known amongst followers ... and treated as spirit possession (unless, of course, it was "spirit possession").

The last category they use is "Mania", a mood disorder and perhaps it is the area we should be exploring?
Manic [or bipolar] hyperreligiosity typically generally relates to people thinking they are Jesus, GOD, or a prophet. An unswerving conviction that they have a connection to some mystical source of knowledge, this almost always results from or in ecstasy or elevated mood. It seems like your friend is missing the elevated mood part, but might be suffering from some kind of psychosis.
A manic episode is a mood episode in which episodes of depression and mania alternate ... a period in time with a constant abnormal ... elevated mood [during which], three or more of the following symptoms are present: grandiosity and/or high self-esteem, less need for sleep, more talkative, racing thoughts ... more goal-directed activity ... and/or involvement in pleasurable activities with negative consequences ... not the consequence of drug use or illness.

The paper goes on to examine connection between the symptoms and brain areas.

Although mental health professions rightly discourage "remote diagnosis", historical diagnoses of other religious figures have been suggested by other, e.g. 'The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered'
Abstract

The authors have analyzed the religious figures Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and St. Paul from a behavioral, neurologic, and neuropsychiatric perspective to determine whether new insights can be achieved about the nature of their revelations. Analysis reveals that these individuals had experiences that resemble those now defined as psychotic symptoms, suggesting that their experiences may have been manifestations of primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorders.

These findings support the possibility that persons with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic symptoms have had a monumental influence on the shaping of Western civilization. It is hoped that these findings will translate into increased compassion and understanding for persons living with mental illnes
Patients with religious delusions reported a significantly higher religiosity, more conviction about their delusions and reported that they were more confident about the external origin of their hallucinations (e.g. God, Satan) as opposed to an internal origin. These observations are very similar to hyper-religiosity, since these patients showed higher religiosity in general, more conviction about the religious content of their delusion and often thought their hallucinations originated from God or another religious figure. Since people with religious delusions differ in these characteristics from people with non-religious delusions, it seems that these patients have characteristics of hyper-religiosity.


One statement that I have to question is ...
There are no reported cases of individuals without a psychiatric or neurological disorder that suffer from hyper-religiosity. The question therefore remains if hyper-religiosity is an extreme form of normal religiosity or if it should be considered as an expression of psychopathology that has nothing to do with the regular expressions of religion.

That's a difficult one from a religious point of view as we would either have to accept or refute the ecstatic experiences of nearly every historical saint or prophet who did not find their way to a psychiatric ward ... mainly because psychiatric wards did not exist when they did.

I tend to think we just cannot and do not *know* in every such ... however, I suspect there is some ground to accept many such figures were just suffering some kind of imbalance.
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Pink Panther

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Re: Hyper-religiosity: BKs, Lekhraj Kirpalani and mental illness?

Post08 Mar 2017

... we would either have to accept or refute the ecstatic experiences of nearly every historical saint or prophet who did not find their way to a psychiatric ward ... mainly because psychiatric wards did not exist when they did. ... I suspect there is some ground to accept many such figures were just suffering some kind of imbalance

Most measures of ”normal” when graphed form a bell curve - almost by definition. The vast majority fit in the bulge in the middle and the number of ”markedly different” peters out on the sides.

The moral- or value-judgement of any imbalance is fraught because the imbalance - what marks out a person as ’not normal' - may be benign, even have a desired benefit (e.g. genius). If we look at Down’s Syndrome people, they are not ‘normal’ (again, because they are a definite minority) and we have only in recent decades learnt to accept and value their qualities, which could be said to be very spiritual if one chose to designate gentleness, generosity and empathy as spiritual.

In psychological conditions, we tend to pathologise those whose condition is harmful to their ”normal” participation in society which is not caused by any obvious physical ailment.

In some societies, what we’d call ”mentally ill” are honoured as blessed, in connection with the gods or spirits of that culture.

The difficulty with BKs is they want to be judged, judge themselves, outside all these conventions. Lekhraj is not, in their minds, one in a long line of those blessed and in communion with spirits or gods, or an aspect of religious genius & inspiration like St Paul or Augustine (the latter with whom he does have some small parallels). He is, in his own mind and his followers', the only one whose ever been in communion with the only God .

None even of the Hindu god-men believe themselves to be the only one ever in history. This puts him right out on the perimeter of the bell curve, a new calibration of ”not normal”.

The pragmatic question is whether this ‘condition' is benign, benevolent or malevolent, for himself and those around him and who follow him. That is another topic I suppose.
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Re: Hyper-religiosity: BKs, Lekhraj Kirpalani and mental ill

Post08 Mar 2017

Pink Panther wrote:In some societies, what we’d call ”mentally ill” are honoured as blessed, in connection with the gods or spirits of that culture.

... But they are very largely just not. In most situation we can increasingly say we know they're just epileptics, schizophrenics, manic depressives etc, or suffering from some kind of neural disorder or decay now.

What interests me about this recent line of research is that science is actually to the point of tying down specific parts of the brain and biology to specific effects, and noting difference in different practices. I need to read up more on it.
None even of the Hindu god-men believe themselves to be the only one ever in history. This puts him right out on the perimeter of the bell curve, a new calibration of ”not normal”.

Awfully audacious, is it not? It's like he is *so* far off the radar adherents cannot even conceive of how far.

And either it is right or, if it is not, surely it is the very worst religious wrong?

See also; Geschwind syndrome and A Man's Hyper-Religiosity Was Actually a Symptom of Brain Atrophy
Geschwind syndrome ... a group of behavioral phenomena evident in some people with temporal lobe epilepsy.

Temporal lobe epilepsy causes chronic, mild, interictal (i.e. between seizures) changes in personality, which slowly intensify over time. Geschwind syndrome includes five primary changes; hypergraphia, hyperreligiosity, atypical (usually reduced) hyposexuality, circumstantiality, and intensified mental life. Not all symptoms must be present for a diagnosis.
Upon examination, it turned out that the man's hyper-religiosity was actually a symptom of frontotemporal dementia, his doctors reported recently in the Clinical Neuropsychologist.

Frontotemporal dementia is a condition in which a loss of cells in certain parts of the brain eventually leads to behavioral and personality changes. Unlike other forms of dementia—like Alzheimer's and Parkinson disease—that strike more commonly in older ages, frontotemporal dementia tends to affect people in their 40s to early 60s.

"For reasons that are not entirely clear, the damage in the brain affects regions of the frontal and temporal lobes more severely in the early stages of the disease," Dr. Brendan Kelley, a cognitive neurologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, who was not involved in the report of the man's case, told Braindecoder. "This often results in problems with logical reasoning, language and many patients exhibit major changes in behavior and interpersonal interactions."

This patient (a priest) presented with several hallmark behavioral and psychiatric features with personality changes, including hyper-religiosity, depression, and social disinhibition. Given the profession of the patient, the observed personality alterations (e.g., religiosity and pietism) were initially excused, which delayed diagnosis

I never met Lekhraj Kirpalani and I am not an expert, so it's incorrect of me to do anything more than raise lines of questioning. Unfortunately, we are all handicapped by the BK inner circle's habitual and decades long obfuscations of the truth about him and their comic book version of the events.

And have you seen his hand writing? What would a graphologist make of it?
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Re: Hyper-religiosity: BKs, Lekhraj Kirpalani and mental ill

Post11 Mar 2017

More from 'The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered’ (above).

P423, it discusses the ideas of "microbubbles [of] paranoid pseudocommunity" and "chains of transmission" which is pretty much exactly how I'd see the early Brahma Kumaris, especially the 60 or 70 who made it through the initial periods of retreat and isolation in Karachi and Mount Abu.

Imagine children and young women growing up entirely inside the bubble of Lekhraj Kirpalani's delusion, denied outside stimulus, eduation and exposure to the real world. Those individuals who became "the Dadi's" and the "chains of transmission of Lekhraj Kirpalani's delusion", who defined the direction of the BKWSU as it expanded until now.
A shared psychotic disorder is another means by which the earliest followers may have received their beliefs ...

Although occurring primarily in the form of a dyadic (two part) relationship, paranoid delusions have been reported to occasionally occur in larger sect-like groups whose members become infused with the paranoid ideation of a dominant member. Norman Cameron termed this a “paranoid pseudocommunity.”

This term is used to denote an imagined persecutorial conspiracy directed at the group member. Once separated from the group’s social fabric, many members have been observed to re-gain the ability to view others without undue levels of suspicion. This pattern of group behavior may lie along a continuum with that of the fight–flight group described by Wilfred Bion.

Much more speculatively, each of our subjects and their followers could have been either an initiator or recipient in a chain of persons who transmit delusional-like beliefs. Each recipient would then act asthe primary case to another individual. No reported cases of such a chain of transmission of delusion-like beliefs are known to the authors, and, therefore, this possibility is highly speculative.

Generally speaking, it is an individual’s insight and amenability to reason that are important means by which sane and psychotic thought processes are distinguished. A significant limitation of this analysis is that we cannot now know to what degree the beliefs of our subjects were fostered and maintained within a cultural “microbubble,” and to what degree their beliefs were amenable to being changed through reasonable processes.

Last, in response to the proposal that a non-literal interpretation of religious writings is most advisable, it is observed that, since the earliest of times, believers have understood our subjects’ experiences as having occurred literally as described. As such, a great many of these experiences bear a striking resemblance to well-characterized psychiatric phenomena. This raises the prospect of an unusual degree of accuracy in the sources with regard to these details.

A "Paranoid Pseudo-Community" is defined as ...
The pseudo-community is ... a cognitive structure which attempts to solve the problem of reconciling social reality with the products of paranoid projection.

Delusional development follows regresion and the loss of social reality. It begins with the estrangement experienced by a partially regressed person when he attempts to regain object relations and proceeds through successive provisional reconstructions of reality until a cognitive solution is reached which seems to justify paranoid action. Aggressive action is likely to make social reality confirm the expectations of the pseudo-community.

Bearing in mind the BKs early to late-mid period denial of any other intellectual influences other than their own, such as books, movie, science and history studies, other religions and even newspapers, according to Cameron ...
... the development of normal, socially organized behavior depends heavily on the maintenance of effective channels of communication with others. Through a constant interchange of ideas, the normal person acquires considerable skill in role taking, in shifting his social perspective so that he can see things from other points of view than their own. As a result, they comes to perceive himself and other people relatively objectively, since he can check and modify erroneous ideas before they develop to any considerable extent.

In the paranoid person, Cameron believes, these skills have been inadequately developed, in part because of a lifelong tendency to seclusiveness. A realistic appraisal of his beliefs about the attitudes and motives of others is limited by a chronic deficiency in role-taking skills and therefore in social-reality testing ... leaving the patient vulnerable to their inner promptings and fantasies, and ... pushed toward an increasingly delusional interpretation of the happenings around him.

The paranoid pseudo community provides the patient with an explanation of his strange, altered world, and it represents as well a restitutive attempt to re-establish a relationship with social reality.

In 'Paranoid pseudocommunity beliefs in a sect milieu'. by Myers P L the idea is taken further to ...
A paranoid perceptual and cognitive style is maintained by leader influence, information-processing roles of members, and the dogmatic, insular, elitist, and antagonistic qualities of this encapsulated subculture.
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Re: Hyper-religiosity: BKs, Lekhraj Kirpalani and mental ill

Post14 Mar 2017

From the Indian Journal of Psycholological Medicine. 2014 : Religion, Spirituality, and Schizophrenia: A Review. A useful meta-analysis of recent research in the area. Would concern me more at the follower level of BKism, e.g. people coming to the cult seeking relief from real and imagined problems.
Religion and spirituality exert a significant role in the lives of many individuals, including people with schizophrenia. However, the contribution of religion and spirituality to various domains (psychopathology, explanatory models, treatment seeking, treatment adherence, outcome, etc.) has not received much attention. In this article, we review the exiting data with regards to the relationship of religion, spirituality, and various domains in patients with schizophrenia ...

Religious delusions influence help seeking, treatment, and outcome. Evidence suggests that those with religious delusions take longer to establish service contact, receive more medications, have overall higher symptom scores, and have poorer functioning. Those with religious delusion/hallucination are more likely to receive magico-religious healing, are not satisfied with psychiatric treatment, and are more likely not to adhere to psychiatric treatment. Evidence also suggests that those with religious delusions have poor outcome and more frequently indulge in violence and self-harm. Some authors suggest that religious delusions can influence the health beliefs models and consequently lead to poor treatment compliance.

In a review of 70 studies, the authors evaluated the relationship between religion, supernatural beliefs, and psychopathology. The authors reported that 30 out of the 70 studies (43%) have found a relationship between delusions and hallucinations, and religion and the supernatural beliefs. Majority of the studies (27 of 30 studies) directly described religious delusions, of which 20 studies described delusions to be of a religion-based nature and 14 considered delusions to be of supernatural nature. Thirteen studies reported on religious hallucinations, with 11 having religious content and 9 finding more supernatural content.

Many studies have evaluated the influence of religion on severity of psychopathology and the findings are contradictory. Some suggest that religious activities and beliefs are more in persons who experience more severe symptoms, especially psychotic and general symptoms, whereas others suggest that increased religious activity is associated with reduced level of symptoms. Data also suggest that higher religiosity is associated with absence of first-rank symptoms.

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