Do breakdowns prove the existence of a spiritual being?

Two years ago I had a breakdown, which left me with a big void inside. Doesn’t a breakdown of conscience prove the existence of a spiritual being?

Posted: August 15th 2007

George Locke

I had a breakdown once. I was in miserable shape. I won’t go into too much detail; i was having all sorts of social anxieties that made it impossible for me to continue school. I sought therapy, that helped. Friends and family, too, for sure.

Before the breakdown, I was an atheist. After the breakdown, I believed in God (sorta). Now I’m back to atheism.

Anyway, even if everybody who ever felt down in the dumps was healed by turning to God, that would prove only that belief in god is therapeutic, not that such a belief is grounded in fact. Needless to say, you don’t even have that kind of evidence, so, “no, breakdowns don’t prove the existence of a spiritual being.”

Posted: April 17th 2008

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vjack www

I fail to see how having a “breakdown” is even relevant to the existence of supernatural entities.

Since you have not defined what you mean by “breakdown,” I can only assume that you are talking about an episode of intense emotional despair. From the standpoint of a mental health professional, I imagine that this could range from moderate clinical depression on one end to an acute psychotic break on the other. I have encountered a number of individuals throughout such a spectrum at their point of greatest despair (e.g., psychosis, suicidal, empty, hopeless, etc.). In no cases did this provide any evidence for the existence of supernatural beings.

Disruptions in human consciousness are fairly common and indicate nothing mystical. Whether we are talking about drugs, meditation, relaxation, mental illness, or neurological conditions, it all comes back to natural processes involving the human brain. Far from suggesting supernatural explanations, neuroscience can (and already has) accounted for much of what we see here.

Posted: August 17th 2007

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flagellant www

I know several people who have had breakdowns; it is always a very unpleasant experience. In most cases, the breakdown seemed to be caused by periods of intolerable stress, where the person had nowhere to turn for help. (I do recognise that there are depressions and breakdowns that are caused by chemical imbalances, and that this can often be dealt with by conventional medicine.)

In days gone by, before life became quite so pressurised, it would have been possible to turn to a priest, witchdoctor or, perhaps even a non-judgmental friend who would be good at listening. But it can be too late to look for a ‘talking cure’. Besides, priests have agendas, witchdoctors are few and far-between in NW3, and friends seldom have the time or are grappling with their own problems. Even worse, ‘mind-doctors’ – modern witch-doctors, – are invariably very expensive, but they sometimes provide the best treatment because they act as non-judgemental friends. Recovery is often achieved because the patient accepts ‘treatment’ from the authority figure – priest, witch-doctor or ‘trick-cyclist’ – by virtue of his/her position, not necessarily because of their objective wisdom. In reality, note that it’s the patient who does the work, not the professional.

The important thing to do is to get back your sense of proportion: there are certain things that you, as an individual, have to come to terms with – but the majority of things can be changed. At the same time, some of the facts – e.g. that life brings difficulties, that the Universe is vast, and that humans are totally insignificant by comparison – are liberating and fascinating. It is natural, occasionally, to feel alone and overwhelmed. Remember that most people feel that way at some time. Real friends are much more helpful than the imaginary type or various types of charlatanry. There is great joy to be had in putting your life back together, with real friends, especially.

Problems are sometimes better looked at with mirth. Atheists are often thought of as earnest and humourless but we sometimes find that laughter is good medicine. It doesn’t mean lack of sympathy – far from it. We think that the answers come from reason rather the supernatural. I don’t remember many jokes in the holy books I’ve looked at.

Posted: August 17th 2007

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John Sargeant www

(Please note this is a general answer and I am not referring to your good self :) )

Depends what you mean by spiritual as to what you think a breakdown proves.

What it does show is the importance of good mental health in functioning as a social being. There is no need for a delusion in order to overcome that, and if there is no evidence to support your world view of life it may be argued that it is not a real fix, but a paving over the cracks that may give way at some point if not on a firm foundation.

Then again the human mind tries to come to terms with the world as it can even if not based on how things are but rather how they appear. I would argue that we are spiritual in that we have a natural tendency to look beyond ourselves and to value things that of themselves have no objective value save what we place on them or how we feel about them (rituals, concepts, loyalties).

In the end conscience is about empathy and using reason with regard to other people and your actions. The best thing to help that is to look for insight and use reason.

Posted: August 17th 2007

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