Erica Loberg doesn’t come right out and say it, but the author of “Inside the Insane” believes that those of us who are very religious – or “hyper religious,” as she describes us – are mentally ill.
“Are there are lot of hyper religio(us) people walking around with schizophrenia or hypo mania and not even know it?,” she asks. “Can religion be a springboard to help discover a mental illness?”
Loberg doesn’t answer her own questions, but it’s pretty obvious what she thinks: Religiosity is a marker for mental illness, if not insanity.
When I checked Loberg’s biography, I discovred that the author has no training whatsoever in psychiatry. In fact, she received a degree in English from Columbia University.
She deems herself qualified to write about mental illness, to suggest that there is some sort of correlation between religious devotion and mental illness, because she spent some time in hospital psych wards in Los Angeles County working with the mentally ill
And, oh yes, she was, herself, a psych patient at one time.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t give Loberg’s not-so-subtle disparagement of the religiously devout a second thought.
But her disparagement appeared in an essay she wrote that appears on Psych Central, the largest and oldest online mental health social network. And her essay has been republished on Google News, giving it an exponentially wider audience.
Many will read Loberg’s essay and unwittingly think she has scientific or clinical evidence to support her hypothesis that a lot of very religious people are walking around with a screw loose.
But they will be wrong. Because Loberg’s hypothesis is based solely on her personal anecdotes.
“When I worked in psych wards,” she wrote, “patients that were considered ‘hyper’ religious would carry a Bible under their arm all day long or point out passages that spoke to them directly.”
So the amateur shrink asked herself “what the correlation was between the Bible and individuals suffering from a mental illness.”
Loberg is guilty of what trained psychiatrists call “projection.” Because she once had a faith life herself, because she also suffered a mental illness, she believes that there must have been some correlation.
But neither God, nor the Bible were responsible for Loberg’s bout of mental illness. The authoress should blame instead the inner demons with which she was afflicted.