Storybook land is the name of an amusement park in New Jersey. But, it’s also a term for a mental disorder. One is fun and the other dangerous. Make sure you don’t expose yourself to the wrong one.
Warning. This article contains big words. We’re talking about the psychological effects of a clinical disorder. It’s something you are likely to encounter, so hang in there and you may learn something which will be helpful.
Imitating and Pretending for Adults
Every week almost one-half the population of the planet gathers to pretend. Pretending isn’t a bad thing when used correctly. Children spend a lot of time in their imaginary worlds of play. Adults need to play too, but there are differences between children and adults.
Adults need to play too, but there are differences between children and adults. Children do not create rules or values that run a society, adults do.
We allow children to have their imaginary friends and enemies in playtime. We don’t want them to use their imagination to put them in jeopardy. You don’t want your child to run into a busy street because they are being chased by their imaginary enemy.
Children also use imitating and pretending to learn adult skills and behaviors in a safe environment. When a child is pretending they are being chased by a monster, we know it is just a game. They know it is just pretend.
Adults pretend they are being pushed down to the floor by the power of the holy ghost at Church. Even though they are pretending, they claim it is real. This is how thought distortions become accepted in a culture. How did this craziness happen?
Magical Thinking Cognitive Distortion
The problem begins when adults accept religious beliefs, which confuses myths with facts. It sets a dangerous precedent. These distortions tend to get worse. Studies link this kind of thinking to other mental illnesses. So religious beliefs are not harmless, they promote mental illness. This kind of thinking can become a dangerous slope leading to violence.
People submit to programming which distorts their thinking. It all starts with pretending. This is the first step in magical thinking cognitive distortion. The greater the exposure, the more susceptible you become.
“In every state of the Union, Fundamentalists still fight to ban all the science they dislike and prosecute all who teach it. To them, ‘traditional family values’ denote their right to keep their children as ignorant as their grandparents (and to hate the same folks grand-dad hated.)” ― Robert Anton Wilson, Sex, and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parson
Imagination is Not the Problem
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” — Albert Einstein
The Dangers of Storybook Land
“Magical thinking cognitive distortion” is a term which describes an obsession with an imaginary construct of reality. This is a clinical term for what happens when imitating and pretending takes the place of reality and distorts our cognitive ability. It can manifest in different ways. It often shows up as a superiority complex or in paranoid delusions of imaginary enemies.
Organized religion is the source of the programming which creates this condition. They use powerful psychological tools which include self-hypnosis and group hypnosis methods. These tools of propaganda are effective at changing thinking. Religions protect their customer base. They train members to attack anything which threatens the boundaries of their system.
The more of this harmful propaganda they consume, the more likely they are to accept extremist ideologies. Who would do that? You would be surprised to find out how many people do just that.
What is the difference between living with imagination and living in an imaginary world? It is simple. When you use your imagination to create things, the results materialize and are measurable. Your efforts leave empirical evidence. You imagine a spoon carved out of wood. You get a knife and carve out the spoon you imagined.
The problem occurs when adults substitute legitimate science for mythology. It becomes a bigger problem when people use myths to create laws which govern others. These are the negative consequences of living in storybook land. It puts us on a slippery slope leading toward a religious monarchy in charge of a government.
Religion is where we find magical thinking cognitive distortion honed to an art. When you can substitute myth for reality, you can believe anything. You can justify the denial of basic human rights.
You can see the adverse effects in the US with overturning of Row vs Wade. All rights begin with personal autonomy. When this discretion is taken away from one gender, it sets the stage for other rights to be taken away as well. It substantiates the right to commit acts of violence in the name of religion. It’s like a return to the dark ages. This kind of thinking promotes promote ethnic, racial, gender, and religious discrimination. You can trace most of the wars and conflicts of the war to those who hold fundamentalist or extremist religious views.
Avoiding The Dangers of Storybook Land
1) Fix Your Programming
Many people inherit their religious beliefs from their families. Children are easy to brainwash, they are trusting. So they accept the belief in mythology. They have no choice but to obey.
It is not surprising if this situation sounds familiar. Most religious converts occur before the age of six. Some people think this amounts to child abuse, and they may be right. If this fits your situation, it is not your fault. But now that you are an adult, it is your personal and social responsibility to fix your programming.
Perhaps you joined one of the main regions because you were in need, in crisis. People who are in a crisis of any kind are also vulnerable to groupthink manipulation tactics. They promise to make you healthy or make you rich, but in the end, these promises are empty. Imitating and pretending only waste your time and cause you harm.
Now, more than ever, you must learn to become a freethinker and not a follower. We recommend:
We all like to think we are too smart to get manipulated, but intelligence is not a safeguard against the power of religious indoctrination. The membership of organized religion is full of intelligent college-educated professionals. Most of them are lifelong members because they were indoctrinated as children.
2) Speak Up and Speak Out
Organized religion want us to be tolerant of their beliefs. They want to be free to teach their doctrines and prey in public schools. But religious freedom begins with being free from religion. So, it is time to confront those who want to use religion as an excuse to promote inherently destructive ideologies. It is time to speak up and speak out. Being tolerant is what allows their extremist ideas to become accepted.
Speak out but learn to be pro facts and not anti-religion. Learn how religion uses the cultural narrative to protect its customer base. It all depends on where you live. The three faiths that dominate half of the world’s population come from the Abrahamic religions (1), the Semitic religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
“Hypocrisy and distortion are passing currents under the name of religion.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“Religious traditions can be reinterpreted in a manner that assists healing, corrects distortions, and expands vision.” — Larry Graham
Be careful when speaking up and confronting those who hold their belief more sacred than human life. Pointing out the errors of their worldview threatens their identity. In many places, the laws of land protect religious mythology. Human rights are secondary to superstition. So, pointing out errors and making fun of their imaginary friends and enemies is an “infringement of their rights.” Magical thinking cognitive distortion gives them the right to protect their version of storybook land.
Realize it is acceptable for them to discriminate against you for promoting unacceptable points of view. For instance, if you try to practice Wicca openly across the street from a church, you will may subject yourself to violence. So, be safe and measured when confronting the dominant religious mythology.
It is dangerous enough for people to have their religion. It becomes a social problem when people use it as a smokescreen to deny other people their rights. Nor should you allow them to use it to create laws that govern society. Don’t ignore the use of religion to promote discrimination and prejudice.
If people want to live their lives in storybook land, they need to know that their beliefs have negative consequences. If they are open-minded enough to engage in independent research, we point them to the comparative analysis process. It’s a scientific method of comparative religious study. Again, be careful. Those with “deeply held” religious beliefs will protect them by using violence if necessary.
3) Don’t Confuse Religion with Spirituality
We are all part of a great spiritual experiment. What we are is consciousness in a biodegradable container, it is what ancient cultures call the soul or spirit. Religion has nothing to do with consciousness or spirit. It is a mind game designed to make you a lifelong paying customer. Religion tries to assimilate all things spiritual to legitimize their con job. Don’t confuse religion with spiritual things.
Joseph Campbell was a teacher of religious comparative studies. He talked a lot about the authentic spiritual quest. It is the Hero’s Journey (2) found in many ancient cultures. Be a freethinker and walk your own spiritual journey. Don’t settle for the counterfeit of imaginary friends.
Magical thinking and the cognitive distortion will continue to be a stumbling block to progress as long as make-believe is an accepted worldview. Imitating and pretending are good tools for children. In the hands of religion, these tools are dangerous.
(1) Abrahamic Religions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces