Fundamentalism: A Psychological Problem

Interesting article from Information Clearing House:

January 09, 2014 "Information Clearing House - Fundamentalism is a widespread problem. It often manifests in a religious context - making it highly visible - but there are plenty of secular fundamentalists too. If we are to understand fundamentalism we should not view it as a religious problem: It is a psychological one.

Psychologically, a fundamentalist is a person with an intense fear of being ‘wrong’; that is, an intense fear of being judged to hold the wrong’ view or to engage in the ‘wrong’ behaviour.


Agree or disagree?

I think that psychological analysis is a little simplistic. Fundamentalism can be explored from several perspectives:

  1. morally, as a perversion of certain good qualities or virtues that leads to sin;
  2. theologically, as turning away from revealed Truth to a man-made version of “truth”,
  3. in cognitive terms, as a set of rigid beliefs (schemata) which have their origins in upbringing and experience,
  4. psychodynamically, as a defence against unconscious conflicts or an undoing of past or present guilt,
  5. attachment-wise, as a substitute for legitimate attachments coupled with a fear of losing attachment to the fundamentalist cult / “church”,

and there are several more. It’s a multifaceted problem. The reason why an educated, upper-middle class young man becomes a fundamentalist atheist (yes, they exist and are quite numerous) is quite different from why a disenfranchised, poor farmer in an Indian village may embrace Hindu fundamentalism against what he sees as wealthy Muslims or Christian churches.

That said, all fundamentalism (theistic or atheistic), no matter what the extenuating circumstances are, is morally flawed and creates more trouble than it solves.

Absolutely, and many fundamentalists I have met manifest these symptoms in multiple aspects of their lives.

For example, One of my co-workers is a fundamentalist, and she is utterly incapable of accepting responsibility for anything she may have done incorrectly. Everything has to be done her way, to her standards exactly how she wants it. She’s a pentecostal, but the same holds true for Atheists, Deists or at times even other Catholics.

Moderation in all things is good, too much of anything causes other aspects of yourself to suffer.

My Masters’ degree is in Psychology. This article is not a psychological or scientifically based article. Instead it is a political narrative, and anyone that doesn’t conform to what the author believes is labeled a fundamentalist. For example, if you are a Catholic in good standing and you believe the CCC, this author calls you a fundamentalist. Notice the different jabs, such as those that say that homosexuality is sinful.

Fundamentalist, in it’s “purest” form, simply means someone accepts a foundation of absolute truth in some form; for some it is scripture, for some the CCC, for some the Koran, for some The Origin of Species, etc… I’m not really sure what the author of the article is trying to describe, but it isn’t fundamentalism, it sounds more like a personality disorder, which is not synonymous with “fundamentalist.”

ETA: And I quote, “For example, Christian fundamentalism plays a crucial role in shaping US domestic policies in relation to abortion, gay marriage…”

I totally agree. This is a junk article.

How is it that holding to some fundamental beliefs in Christianity that are clearly outlined in our Bible’s means we have a Psychological problem? The author did not address this at all, rather it read as a Liberal having issue with what the Church takes issue with.

We believe any sex outside of marriage is a sin, and Homosexuals can’t be married in God’s eyes, therefore homosexual sex is a sin.

We believe that life is sacred, so we must let the baby live and grow and have a chance.

One argument is that, “God says so” yes, but there are plenty of reasons for our fundamental beliefs. Imagine I started saying that Liberalism was a psychological disorder and they need to be reasoned with to change their psychology.

Christian fundamentalism is a set of Morals and beliefs which can influence Politics; much like liberalism.

I don’t have a degree in Psychology but I am crazy, so I know crazy when I see it. I can tell you that there are crazies in Fundamentalism as there are crazies in Catholicism.


As a Lutheran,I have to make sure that my ability to follow the Law easily doesn’t let me think that it makes me righteous. When in fact, we all fall short of the law in different ways - some more apparent than others.

When I find myself beginning to put myself “above” those that sin against the unborn or sin against their own bodies - I have to tell myself “Thank you God that those particular sins are not a trouble of mine, but God, please show me my own sins so that I may repent and seek your Gospel.”

And sure enough… when I carefully examine myself, I find that I’m a horrid sinner.

There are crazies everywhere, esp. online article writers. :wink: But that’s not the point; they would consider practicing Catholics “Fundamentalists.” They are making it a derogatory term that they then apply to anyone that believes in absolute truth.

This begs the question. Should we have a follow-up thread titled:

Getting information from informationclearinghouse: A Psychological Problem?
Summary of article:
While many reviewers felt that some information on the site had some value, they felt that those who used the site to find articles to post on a website of their own denomination where they would be safe to do so in order to incite hostility amoung groups that were outside of their particular denomination as an indication of a possible psychological problem. However, without a scientific peer reviewed study the reviewers reserved judgement on the matter.

A bunch of hogwash is what it is. This is the same leftist spiel you see all over the place. The writer first says that christians who oppose same-sex marriage and abortion are fundamentalists and then he goes on to say that there’s something mentally wrong with the people who hold to this. He’s trying to demonize people.

You don’t have to do something outrageous to be considered a fundamentalist, extremist, radical or whatever else you want to call it. Just hold to the belief that there’s a God whom has spoken. That’s radical enough, evidently. :rolleyes:

I realize the guy is a liberal and has a political motivation.
Nevertheless, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
I stumbled across the article and thought this quote to hold very true.

Psychologically, a fundamentalist is a person with an intense fear of being ‘wrong’; that is, an intense fear of being judged to hold the wrong’ view or to engage in the ‘wrong’ behaviour.

If fundamentalism is indeed based on fear, than can fundamentalism lead to, or be associated with phychological disorders?

Lets forget about the analyzing the guy who wrote article, he does bring up a valid, and often overlooked point.

This, “a person with an intense fear of being ‘wrong’; that is, an intense fear of being judged to hold the wrong’ view or to engage in the ‘wrong’ behaviour” makes no sense in regard to Fundamentalism. That is a description of a Phobia; an intense debilitating fear of being wrong is “Atychiphobia.” But what this person is describing is either a lack of self-esteem, or could even be a symptom of adolescence. In logic, it would simply be someone committing the fallacy of Group Think, or caving in to Peer Pressure.

I grew up with fundamentalists and live among them. I really don’t think most are motivated to fundamentalism by fear. They really think they’re right, and many are quite courageous in saying what they believe, and in living it. And lots of them don’t fear anything, not even hell. (I think it wise to fear hell, but a lot of protestants, especially the “saved” ones just don’t)

I’m sure this fellow would consider me a “fundamentalist”. I really do accept what the Church teaches. But it isn’t out of “fear”. It’s more that I realize I can’t possibly unwind and refute the inspired wisdom of millenia. Who am I to think I’m a better thinker than St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, or Augustine or the Church Fathers? If I read them, I find them persuasive. If I read some half-cocked political psychology, I’m not. Personally, I suspect that those who “question everything” are looking for answers that suit them and THAT’s motivated by fear of accepting more solid certitudes that might pose a challenge to the way they live their lives.

This inspired me a bit; the reason being that as Christians we constantly stand up for Morals against an increasingly secular society. We’re not the one’s who are afraid to be criticized by a majority because we refuse to support what is evil.

I believe it was Justin Martyr who refuted the argument that Christians should just kill themselves and be with their God if living morally and expressing their morals means so much to them. I can imagine the Romans thought Martyr and other Christians were mentally ill as well.

We have our opinions and beliefs, and they can be supported soundly. Where leftists believe their morals are higher but they are only caving out of fear (more so than us) to “progressive” secular society.

The worst kind of pseudo scientific psychobabble.

Should we start sending fundamentalists to state mental hospitals for treatment?

Should fundamentalism be coded in the DSM somewhere?

What should the diagnostic criteria be for fundamentalism and how would you differentiate it from normal religious belief? And “being afraid of being wrong” is not a great difference.

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