Esmail, A. (2007). "Towards a psycho-anthropological view of religious violence." Int Rev Psychiatry 19(3): 243-251.
"Understanding the phenomenon of religious violence requires a theoretical approach to the task. Ideally, the theoretical framework must integrate (1) the insights of neurobiology and ethnology elucidating the roots of aggression in the organism and its manifestations in animal behaviour, (2) the expression of these in human violence, which requires careful attention to linguistic and other expressions in culture, (3) the special role of religious representations in this connection, and (4) the mechanisms, in time and place, whereby the role of religion in the maintenance of cultural order is reversed, and becomes an ally of violence. Psychological theories, like the psychoanalytic school, have a contribution to make to this end. But they also exhibit limitations. The most compelling anthropological theory to date is Rene Girard's, which focuses on mimetic desire, violence, its resolution through scapegoating and subsequent enactment in ritual. The sacred is seen to lie at the origins of cultural order. But it also harbours a potential for a resurgence of the violence it conceals. Other researchers have shown how certain features of modernity unwittingly fuel violence through the promulgation of stereotypical, group identities. Contemporary Islamist violence (Jihadism) offers a case-study for these theoretical axioms. The example is not peculiar or sui generis. Rather it illustrates, more widely, the nature of the sacred and its relation to history. The Islamic tradition and modern Muslim history also provide a template for an analytic understanding of religious symbols, and their degradation into symbols of a typically modern demand for recognition of ego and group orientated identities. This psychosocial configuration necessarily escapes the attention of the actors, and because of the nominal persistence of old symbols, may also escape the attention of observers. To expose and explain these discrepancies is one of the central tasks of analysis in the proposed theoretical framework."
Feygin, D. L., J. E. Swain, et al. (2006). "The normalcy of neurosis: evolutionary origins of obsessive-compulsive disorder and related behaviors." Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 30(5): 854-864.
One of the most curious questions plaguing subscribers of evolutionary theory is how natural selection's fine-tuned editing function could allow disease to persist. For evolutionary psychiatrists, the existence of psychopathology is thus perplexing. To illustrate a potential answer to one instance of this broad question, we examine the correlates of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) within our normal repertoire of thought and action. The evidence presents a picture of OCD as a dysregulation of normal behaviors and mental states throughout the course of human development. We speculate that such correspondence may be more than a coincidence and that OCD is a consequence of a dysregulation of the neural circuits that are crucially involved in threat detection and harm avoidance. These neural systems are also likely to underlie aspects of religious experience and ritual as well as the wonders of romantic and early parental love.
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Kimberly Burnham, PhD
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Kimberly Burnham, PhD
With a PhD in Integrative Medicine, Kimberly Burnham is an expert in brain health, working with people with Parkinson's, Macular degeneration, Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington's ataxia, Diabetic Neuropathy, Autism and more.. She blogs regularly on SpokaneFavs, an Interfaith news site, Inner Child Press Magazine with a column entitled Community of Humanity and writes for the Reform Judaism site.