Reverence can be proven as a need by studying people who lack it. People who have too little, or no reverence, are progressively bored, nervous, irritable, forgetful, sleepless, depressed, insecure, impotent, and suicidal. Depression leads to impotence, and the two may not be separate signs in the syndrome. Diagnosticians may recognize this syndrome as being special to the hypothalamus, a very primitive center of the brain.
There is a trap into which the intelligent social mammal may fall which involves the improper use of dialectic philosophies in the consideration of human behavior. Conditioned alienation is usually a sui-genetic situation in which the subject intellectually conditions himself. If he says to himself ten times a day, "I am not my brother's keeper. I am not responsible or concerned for anyone else in this society," he eventually causes a short circuit in his mental ideation by recruiting neurosynapses in a by-pass around an inborn need for social responsibilities. This could also possibly be initiated through punitive relationships disturbing the identification process during childhood. The individual does not necessarily become antisocial, but asocial. This conditioned alienation is not to be confused with a genetic alienation which is an entirely different syndrome called "schizoid".
Self-conditioned alienation usually occurs in a sensitive and intelligent young person, though it can occur in a person of any age, who has incurred a cynical attitude toward altruism brought about by a dialectic materialistic philosophy which proposes that altruism and egoism are mutually exclusive. We now know and understand that such a philosophy is unscientific, but it is still proposed by cynical intellectuals who are often encountered in schools of higher education. This is a part of the socialist and communist doctrine, for instance. Under current conditions of Scientific insight such a philosophy is irresponsible and culpable. An individual unprotected by insight into the evolution of altruism and susceptible to argumentative influence can be conditioned to an unnatural attitude. An extreme case would be a terrorist. An interview with a terrorist can usually reveal a fractured personality with internal contradictory psychology.
The evolution of altruism begins with a genetic condition within a small family which spreads to more remote relationships. Self-alienation, then, is an anti-evolutionary trend in which a personality withdraws from a wider boundary of relationships to a smaller one. In the extreme, the person retracts his boundaries to within himself. Physiologically, this requires an artificial neural by-pass around a ganglion type structure presumably interlaced within the brain. Sometimes the ganglionic structure can become quite isolated. Such a person can lose all comprehension of identification and bonding.
There are considerations by perverse liberal materialists concerning the possibility of denying this dependence on reverence to "free" humanity from it. They see this as a step in grasping complete self-control for one's self. To attempt such an action one would have to be oblivious to the fact that one would then end up with a non-human mammal. The conclusion, consistent with human society, is that the essence of humanity is reverence. To be human one must be reverent. That is a real basis for ethics.
This conclusion has a very practical everyday application. Let me cite three cases in which each one illustrates a lack of one or more of the features of reverence. The first two cases were young devout Christians who, on going to college, found their faith undermined by the sophisticated dialectic materialism of a liberal college campus. They lost their identity with a supernatural God with only themselves to fall back on. Thus, the self-alienation and break down of their psychological integrity. The condition continued until self-readjustment and/or psychotherapy established another workable reverence.
The lone seminary youth
My knowledge of the condition led to an early question on suicide. He assured me that he was writing a "Handbook on Suicide", wherein he was collecting and discussing various ways of doing it so that a novice (?!) who wished to do it would not have to suffer a botched job. This is certainly one type of endeavor in which one cannot gain experience. So, his use of the term "novice" turned out to be a very bitter type of humor. His insomnia, nervousness, and depression were close to the surface and were easy to discover. I had gone this far in our investigation of his case when I confidently launched into a discussion of alienation due to lack of faith.
To this he listened with interested attention. In hindsight I recalled the bemused light in his eye as I went through my act. At the conclusion of our discussion he agreed that it was all very interesting, but he declared that he was a devout Catholic, and as a matter of fact, was studying to be a priest. When I had mentally reviewed the known factors in the case, and recovered from my shock, we went back to analyzing his case.
He finally summed up his attitude in the statement that "no one had ever done anything for him" and he had avowed that he would "never do anything for anybody else." This manifested his alienation by complete detachment from humanity. I was momentarily stunned and confused by this new disclosure. He resolved my confusion by telling me that he wanted to be a librarian in a large isolated monastery where there were so many monks that he could hide in the crowd. This was his idea of getting about as far away from humanity as he could ever get.
The conceited youth
One point in our discussion of legal ethics led to a discourse on the rights of as yet unconceived children. Yet, the subject of sexual intercourse was so crass and carnal that it took several seconds for the patient to think what I was talking about. He had never so much as had the urge to talk to a girl unless she were knowledgeable and serious about the law. An examination of well developed scrotal varicoceles precluded any necessity for discussing masturbation as a guilt problem. Varicoceles have been ascribed to rigid sexual restraint.
His problem seemed to revolve around the fact that he was so far advanced and intelligent that he was afraid that the world was not ready for him. Anyone for whom he had the slightest respect who did not immediately agree to every point of his extremely involved ethereal discussions discouraged him and made him think of killing himself. There was no minute itch, ache, giddiness, and gas that didn't warrant detailed discussions on his part. I concluded that this case was perhaps the most pronounced as far as lack of humility was concerned.
The isolated physician
He almost did not tell me of all this because he looked down on me with disdain. He manifested alienation and arrogance in contrast to identification and humility. He did not carry through his death wish because he felt a responsibility to his wife's three children by another marriage. He had faith in nothing. He did not believe in anything he could not see and understand. He relied entirely on himself. My analysis of the case was that he had neither identification nor humility which led to his alienation. His dedication to his family and the industry for which he worked as a company physician was life saving.
From sometime after the communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, and lasting for about fifteen years, the government embarked on a new method of raising their children in the state run orphanages. Caretakers were purposely scheduled on rotating shifts so the children, even the infants, were never exposed to the same person for any length of time. The children's care was kept on strict schedules, equal for all. The children were not allowed to have any personal possessions. All toys had to be shared equally. All this was dutifully recorded on film. This designed disbursement of individuality was considered to be the ideal upbringing for a new generation of the communist society. By the time the children had reached their teenage years, they were lethargic, had nervous twitches, and were irritable and depressed. The perpetrators of this concept made a documentary film about this to warn others not to repeat it. In the final scenes they showed fifty or sixty youngsters between twelve and seventeen years of age eating in a cafeteria. They were all mysteriously rocking back and forth, forward and back, as they spooned the food from their plates. Such is the confusion in the minds of people where genetic needs are in conflict with sociocultural conditioning.
Alienated patients almost always have difficulty with the meanings of the word "identification". After all, that is at the center of their problem. They simply cannot grasp the significance of the definition. The therapist must be prepared and willing to spend time on that subject with multiple examples of meanings. In a discussion of the common subjects of patriotism and allegiance, prevalent ideas of war and defense must be countered with thoughts of oneness of society, public service, and social consciousness. Alienated people have no idea of the positive feelings that go along with these attitudes. The feeling of humility without a feeling of expandability and worthlessness must be worked through with the patient. Dedication without thoughts of self-sacrifice, but rather thoughts of constructive work and accomplishment in a social atmosphere must be drilled and emphasized. Finally, and most important, must be the experience of deep unselfish love. Hopefully, the patient marries into this. Love is a primary, basic, intimate feeling toward one's society, surely beginning with one's spouse.
A trick used in the therapy of these cases is to cause the patient to raise a puppy. Dogs are usually recommended over cats because they are more dependent on their masters. The trick seems to work because the love and charity for another creature once reawakened can rapidly spread to other creatures, especially humans. This trick will not work with genetic alienation, the "schizoid" personality, because in those cases the ganglionic mechanism for altruism is absent. Also, the sense of guilt is absent. In all of these respects one must emphasize feeling. The concepts must be more than cold intellectual ideas. The emotions and body must be discretely motivated into giving, forgiveness, and mortality.
Best yet is the idea of prevention. The child can be daily drilled in prayer, religion, concerned philosophy, altruism, allegiance, love of fellow man and forgiveness. The participation and study of self-defense and team sports can be emphasized as defenses of society and unity. The handshake after a game must signify friendship and continued mutual respect. After all, we are still of the same society, working together sharing success in life.
It is now over twenty five years since I have seen any of those three cases, though I have heard about them through the relatives who stayed behind. They did not committed suicide. The two boys we discussed finished school, got married, and live in distant cities. The physician retired and moved to a foreign country, and never improved while I knew him. I never saw a follow-up on the Czechoslovakian youth.
Self-alienation, caused by a philosophical conditioning, occurs in a person who is searching for an identity and may be led astray in a search for uniqueness which tends to distinguish them from, rather than identify him with, the social group.
The intellectual youth
The alienation we have been discussing is an extreme of an intellectual drift in a continuum. In other words there is no specific point in the drift where we can say that the patient has reached an abnormal condition. In other conditions, by contrast, the switch from normal to abnormal is sudden and sharp. I have known schizophrenics to change radically over night. One day they were normal in all respects and the next day they were definitely psychotic.
This is a Scientific basis for an ethical consideration. If you will, we could state categorically: Thou shalt identify with one: God, Humanity, or Nature, or the three together as a trinity which are greater than thou art, and to them thou shalt dedicate thyself!
Such contradictory ideas of minimal and profound affects of marijuana in the surgeon's mind are distant from his own mental survival. In ordinary conversations there is no ready evidence of contradictory ideas. Once the person sees the contradiction, he may make an adjustment to eliminate it. He will at least tag the ideas and put them in limbo until he can verify his references and reconcile them. In the alienated and other split personalities these inconsistencies cause no strain, when juxtaposed. The contradictions are obvious to outsiders, but ignored by the patient.