Don’t Pathologize Religious Experiences

Jules Evans, a journalist and writer with a deep interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, writes a piece for Wired Magazine on the tendency of religious or out-of-the-ordinary experiences to be “shifted to the margins of our secular, scientific, post-animist culture and defined as pathological symptoms of a physical or emotional disease.” Evans cites a new study in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology that compares “psychotic-like phenomena in clinical and non-clinical populations” and finds that context is vital in determining how that experience is treated and integrated into someone’s life. “It is not the OOE [‘out-of-the-ordinary’ experience] itself that determines the development of a clinical condition, but rather the wider personal and interpersonal contexts that influence how this experience is subsequently integrated. Theoretical implications for the refinement of psychosis models are outlined, and clinical implications for the validation and normalization of psychotic-like phenomena are proposed.” This leads Evans to call for a more pragmatic approach from health care professionals when confronted with a patient’s experience of an ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ experience.

Isaac Bonewits Diagnosed with Cancer

Well-known Pagan author and lecturer Isaac Bonewits, who was hospitalized on October 21st, has apparently been diagnosed with a rare form of colon cancer. Isaac and Phaedra Bonewits
“Isaac is doing much better with his white cell count still going down. However, they have confirmed that one of the three tumors is cancerous; there will be more biopsies on Monday as they want to make sure all three have been biopsied individually. …Good news, it’s a rarer form of cancer that responds well to chemo and radiation. No surgery!”

Alters Your Mind, Causes Cancer

Just months after a team of neuroscientists found that frankincense biochemically relieves anxiety, a new team of researchers have come forward to say that there is a link between heavy incense use and respiratory cancers.Frankincense resin.”In a study of more than 61,000 ethnic Chinese living in Singapore who were followed for up to 12 years, the investigators found a link between heavy incense use and various respiratory cancers. The findings are published in the medical journal Cancer.”So just how much incense burning constitutes “heavy” usage? “Study participants who used incense in their homes all day or throughout the day and night were 80 percent more likely than non-users to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the entire respiratory tract. The link between incense use and increased cancer risk held when the researchers weighed other factors, including cigarette smoking, diet and drinking habits.”In other words, the occasional stick of incense at home or at a ritual probably won’t give you cancer, but if you live in a constant haze of sweet smelling smoke, you might want to cut back a bit (especially if you have other increased risk factors). The study also said that incense posed no overall effect on lung cancer risk, but increased risks of upper respiratory cancers.