The Atlas Delusion

People who are clinically deluded hang on desperately to their delusion even when others point out they have no reason to believe it and there are many reasons not to. They cannot explain why they are so sure the delusion is true, just that they feel utterly convinced there is no doubt it is true. They confuse this intense feeling with knowing.

I once met a glum mental patient in the Alameda Emergency Psych Ward who believed he was Atlas, supporting the world on his shoulders. Nobody could talk him out of it. I had idea. I said, Would you mind if I held the world for a while? He expressed great relief at being relieved of the duty. I pantomimed taking the world off his shoulders onto mine. He leapt up joyfully and ran off. A psychiatrist came and asked me what I did to cause Atlas’s astounding transformation. He was not freed of his delusion, but he was freed of much of its negative consequences.

Christians are similarly deluded and hold on like limpets to their delusions. We don’t normally think of Christians as deluded, but that is just because they are so common. I have tried many things to free them from their delusions. It is doubly hard because other infected Christians work hard to keep them deluded. I have yet to figure out some sort of intervention for Christians analogous to the one I used for Atlas, that will at least free them of the fear of being roasted alive.

~ Roedy (born:1948-02-04 age:68)