Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Marshall Applewhite

The wikipedia article-of-the-day sometime last week was Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven's Gate cult that all committed suicide almost twenty years ago when the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet convinced them that it was time for them to go up to the spaceship and get new bodies.  Something like that.

Looks pretty much schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type to me, at least from a distance.  Actually pretty much just from his photograph one might take that as a working guess.
Poor sexual control, omnisexual, check.
Grandiosity, check.
Performing arts, check. (Sorry. Includes me, too, y'know.)
Fluidity of beliefs, changing repeatedly, check.
Charm based on intensity that is a bit much for many folks, check.
Lack of insight or willingness to consider alternatives, check.

Here's an interesting bit about psychotic prophets.  A large part of their prophecy revolves around - them being the prophet. That's all.  Believing in them.  One of my patients today assured me quite angrily that I would be kneeling in front of him someday. He is furious at his wife for being "in rebellion" for fearing that all his money-and-fame schemes won't work, when the Bible clearly teaches not to fear. Believing in him is really the only teaching of this prophet.

It's interesting because that's where God starts out in Genesis, and where Jesus starts out when he starts his ministry.  Consider that Lot gets just about nothing right except somehow clinging to this one God YHWH. Yet that is good enough, at least in that stage of the covenant.

The difference is that Genesis gives way to Exodus, and a whole lot of learning to understand just what is important to this God; and Jesus moves pretty quickly to deeper lessons. Yet perhaps mere identification is the only start we can make.


lelia said...

My sister has said that reading the Old Testament about the prophets has been ruined by her Schizophrenic husband telling her he's a prophet of God and she needs to honor him. So do the kids. So does the world. He used to be a kind man and a Bible teacher. To see him go insane and become cruel, using Scripture as a weapon is hard. His hours-long rants at night and accusations of his wife and kids has traumatized everybody. Because of his abuse and the need to protect the assets accrued over a lifetime of work, my sister has been forced to divorce him. She was not allowed to force him to take his meds, and the state could only do so after he assaulted some people at my sister's workplace. She was fired to protect the people.
I can understand trying to protect the rights of the insane, but, man, I wish they could be forced to take meds before they assault someone.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

New Hampshire has the most comprehensive program in the country for requiring people to take meds or be returned to the hospital - something like an outpatient treatment order - and even ours has huge gaps in it. There are so many ways people can loophole out of it, the major one being that lithium and depakote don't come in injectable or long-acting formulations. Disabilities Rights hates our conditional discharge law and would like to see it removed.

Time pressure to discharge people quickly, for both rights and financial reasons, also allows a lot of half-treated folks to be out. As for your brother-in-law, my experience is that without medication there is no hope of any insight whatsoever, even when confronted with catastrophe. Even with medication it doesn't happen about 35% of the time.

Even after all these years, it is hard to understand why. How the obvious cannot be seen continues to amaze.

james said...

Your statement that you can almost guess from his photo is interesting. I don't know the field and can't diagnose, but the affect and demeanor send up warning flags: something is wrong, even if I don't know what.
Do the affect and demeanor still send up warning flags when shown by someone of unfamiliar race and culture?

I've been puzzling over the "reduced trust in multicultural environments" study, and it seems plausible that if you can't read somebody as well you aren't going to trust him very well. Not sure how this carries over to loss of trust within the same ethnic group, though.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I attribute the lack of trust within the group when the group is threatened to mere activation. People are jumpy.

Texan99 said...

If Jesus wasn't telling the literal truth about Himself, then it's hard to escape the conclusion that he was bad crazy. He didn't confine Himself to handing out nuggets of wisdom about how an ordinary person can best get on in life. He claimed to be the only path to God and, depending on how you interpret some scripture, especially John, to be God himself. Or at least the Son of God. Anyway, something considerably more than a nice guy with some good advice, a strong sense of the dramatic, and a way with words.

But if other people do it, it's sure a bad sign. That is, it's one thing to think you're God if you really are, but . . . .

I understand why civil libertarians are worried about over-robust hospitalization laws, but all you need is one bipolar relative stuck in the psych hospital revolving door to know that what we've got ain't working. My sister, then a social worker, used to get so exasperated with me when I'd go on in a "Cuckoo's Nest" vein. She would say that the reality of the coercive aspect of mental hospitals is nowhere near so romantic.

lelia said...

I found the book: I'm Not Sick and I Don't Need Help to be enlightening about the self agnosia. The insights gained from the book helps us not explode with rage at our BIL. Sadly, some of his kids hated that book (we gave them thinking it would help)and have come to hate their dad.