Faith, Supernatural Beliefs and Our Symbolic Brain
By Dr. Herman Kagan
October 20th – November 10 2013
Synopsis: We have been endowed with a symbolic brain that helps us adapt to and survive in our natural and man-made worlds. However it is open to both true and false beliefs both of which have impacts on our well-being. Supernatural beliefs may lead to disastrous consequences but continue to exist because they actually serve human survival through their reliance on faith and reduction of stress. So our symbolic brain’s readiness for supernatural beliefs is a mixed blessing-but a blessing nevertheless.
Excerpt: Dr. Jaylin apparently helped a woman who envisioned a body floating in front of her whenever she took a shower with her eyes shut. She tried taking a shower with her eyes wide open, but the sound of the running water filled her with dread. Then night after night she dreamed of being raped. Out of desperation she sought out Dr. Jaylin, who with regression therapy took her back to her past life, which turned out to be a tragic one. The woman saw her sister being raped and pushed to her death over a waterfall as she stayed hidden and frozen with fright. When her sister’s body crashed to the ground, she leaped out of hiding to help her but was swept away by the thundering torrent. Once she relived these experiences she was finally able to take a shower with her eyes closed, and the rape dreams vanished.
A living example is Rebecca Rosen, a thirty-three-year-old mother. Her grandmother committed suicide when Rebecca was eleven years old, and when Rebecca was in college she suddenly started hearing the voice of her dead grandmother. Her grandmother’s voice provided guidance lessons for taking care of herself and avoiding depression and Rebecca wrote down all the things her dead grandmother told her. Since then she hasn’t stopped hearing from other dead people, and continues to hear voices of the dead some ten years later.Has Rebecca been treated as abnormal or mentally disturbed? No, she has been accepted as a psychic and she is booked almost three years in advance for psychic readings at $275 for a half-hour and $500 for an hour. In February 2010 she gave a group reading at the Rock Financial Center in Novi, Michigan, which was attended by eight hundred people who paid $30 to $80 apiece for readings.
Grade: A (5 stars)
What a fascinating piece. Though I’m not a big reader of psychology books, this one was quite interesting. The way the book looks at belief and superstition was really eye opening, and it has such a good amount of information to help support it, that it really got me thinking. This book really puts good points towards rationalizing religion with science. Though I may not always find myself completely agreeing with all the points provided in the book, it was nice to see someone trying to work both religion and science together instead of letting only one be center stage. It’s nice to see the case studies in the book, to really help show where the information is coming from, and giving us a bit more on why we should believe it. I really enjoyed reading this book.
*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
Dr. Herman Kagan – The author is a retired clinical psychologist with a California license who specialized in the area of childhood trauma and abuse. He directed, for 18 years, a support/treatment group for children and families experiencing sexual abuse. He also was involved in creating a sexual abuse prevention program for elementary schools.
After he retired he began writing to leave an information legacy for his grandchildren about how people react to good and bad situations and what systems are involved. Two books resulted from his writing, namely: “The Psychological Immune System” and the current book listed. His main goal is to figure out what human actions are innate, what are learned and why we act so contradictory.