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Manufacturing
Madness
©2018 Dr Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam

Can one be “driven mad”? Can ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘mania’ be caused by the
tarot cards? Are the student texts on the brain the accurate? Is insanity being
created by corporate publication houses?

This is a consideration of two publications by the American publishing house


Simon and Schuster in the 1990s – The Mythic Tarot Book (published in 1992)
and Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior (published in 1995). I was given
The Mythic Tarot Book as a present for my 34th birthday in 1995 and bought
Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior from the Monash University
bookshop in Melbourne, Australia in 1996.
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The Mythic Tarot Book and madness

The Mythic Tarot Book was sold with a set of tarot cards depicting selected
Greek myths and a cloth to protect them (with a diagram showing how to set
up a “spread” to read) by the Paramount Communications Company, an
American corporation with offices in New York, London, Sydney, Toronto,
Singapore and Tokyo. My copy was published in Australia by Simon and
Schuster, Australia (20 Barcoo Street, East Roseville, New South Wales) but
printed and bound in Hong Kong. The small print also includes the information
that it is an Eddison Sadd Edition, edited, designed and produced by Eddison
Sadd Editions Limited (London). Paramount Communications Company is now
owned by CBS (USA).

The book’s authors are Juliet Sharman-Burke and Liz Greene with the cards
illustrated by Tricia Newell. Liz Greene is promoted on the inside cover as the
author of several other New Age books, mainly on astrology. Juliet Sharman-
Burke has written several books on the tarot, with her own Jungian
interpretation of ancient Greek myths. These books, if believed, would create
some of the classical signs of ‘schizophrenia’.

Believing that special messages are contained in how things are arranged is a
described as a sign of schizophrenia as is magical thinking. Pseudo-scientific
beliefs are also regarded as signs of schizophrenia, along with “unusual beliefs”
especially those with a religious flavour. Increase in goal-directed activities,
one of the stated objectives of the cards, is described as a sign of
mania/hypomania. The classical signs of schizophrenia are delusions and
hallucinations. There is no reason to believe that hallucinations can be caused
by the tarot cards, but they can certainly create delusions. These delusions can
be systematised and bizarre, depending on how deeply the “mythical” content
of the cards is absorbed.

Since the successful publication of The Mythic Tarot Book, Juliet Sharman-
Burke and Liz Greene have been teaching “psychological astrology” in London.
The Centre for Psychological Astrology (CPA) was founded in 1983 by Greene
and an American psychologist by the name of Howard Sasportas who died of
AIDS in 1992. According to their website, a “wide variety of psychological
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approaches was incorporated” into the seminars including Jung, Freud and
Klein. The CPA offered a ‘Diploma Course’ with Charles Harvey as co-director
with Liz Greene. Harvey died of cancer in 2000. The manager, Richard Aisbett,
also died prematurely in 1996. ‘Psychological astrology’ does not appear good
for male health.

According to their website in 2018, the Centre for Psychological Astrology no


longer offers intermediate or diploma courses and recommends, instead, the
“Diploma Course from Mercury Internet School of Psychological Astrology”
(MISPA) run by a young man by the name of John Green. Green is a web
designer and designed the CPA’s website as well as his own “MISPA” website.
He is teaching the online CPA “Foundation Course”.

The MISPA website is slick and offers visitors to “Learn Astrology Online” with
“our acclaimed professional psychological astrologers”. It is an induction to
insanity, for which the suggestible and gullible are convinced to part with their
money.

Dogmas about the Brain and Behaviour

Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior was sold with a CD and study manual
and is intended as a textbook to be taught as fact in a one or two semester
course by universities around the world. The book doesn’t encourage the
student to ask questions but provides an overwhelming amount of information
with more “suggested reading” to reinforce what they say. This book was
edited by professors at Columbia University in New York, including Eric Kandel,
who authored several chapters, including the ones that mention schizophrenia.
Kandel went on to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2000, sharing it with
Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard “for their discoveries regarding signal
transduction in the nervous system”. Carlsson of the Goteborg University in
Sweden is famous for discovering that dopamine, first manufactured
synthetically by Wellcome Laboratories in London in 1910, is a naturally-
occurring and vital neurotransmitter in the brain and that, according to the
Nobel Prize website, “it has great importance for our ability to control
movements”. He made this discovery in the 1950s, and it resulted in greater

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understanding of the cause as well as the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease,


which is caused by degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in the basal
ganglia (this dopamine is produced by pigmented cells in the Substantia Nigra
or ‘black substance’ which contains the black pigment melanin, that also gives
colour to the hair, skin and eyes). The Nobel Prize site also claims that in his
subsequent discoveries he has “demonstrated the mode of action of drugs
used for the treatment of schizophrenia”.

Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior is mainly a book about the brain and
has little psychiatry in it. It goes into detail about synapses and molecular
neuroscience, but has only a couple of references to schizophrenia. One is a
reference to the genetics of schizophrenia (claiming that it Is polygenic or
determined by many genes but also influenced by environment) and the other
is a reference to the dopamine theory of schizophrenia followed by the claim
that imaging studies of the brains of schizophrenic patients support this idea
(that “disturbances of the dopaminergic system contribute to the symptoms of
schizophrenia, a disorder of thought”). They claim that “the frontal lobe tends
to be smaller in schizophrenics than in normal individuals” and that blood flow
to prefrontal areas is decreased in people with schizophrenia. (p.353)

The basis of the dopamine theory of schizophrenia is that antipsychotic drugs


block receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine. This has been known for
several decades, and much effort and money have gone into “proving” that
schizophrenia is caused by too much dopamine in the brain or an abnormality
in dopamine receptors. The results have been conflicting, compounded by the
problem of not knowing whether detected differences in the brains of people
labelled ‘schizophrenic’ are caused by the illness or the treatment. This
includes reports smaller frontal lobes in ‘schizophrenics’.

Considerable time, money and effort have also gone into proving that
schizophrenia is inherited in the genes. There have been widely publicised
studies on monozygotic (‘identical’) twins, comparing them to non-identical
twins. These studies are reported to show a 50% concordance in identical
twins, whether reared together or apart. This is a strong indication that genes
play a part in the inheritance of what is described as “schizophrenia”, but the
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label includes many different features of thinking and behaviour (some healthy
and others unhealthy). One of these is hallucinations, usually auditory (hearing
voices). It may well be that a tendency to hearing voices is inherited to some
degree, and it is also true that some people attribute false explanations for the
voices they hear, but that others don’t hear. They can believe that they are the
voice of God or angels, the Devil or demons, they can believe that they are
channelling extraterrestrials or “ascended masters”, or experiencing telepathy.
During the corporate promotion of the New Age Religion in the 1990s there
were many books and magazines exhorting young people to believe in
channelling, ESP, astral travel, aliens and ascended masters, along with other
beliefs that are regarded as signs of psychosis and delusions by psychiatric
texts.

Whether people are susceptible to misinformation and disinformation that


deludes them depends on their suggestibility. This may be partly inherited,
partly explaining the twin studies, but the criteria for the diagnosis of
schizophrenia and other forms of madness/mental illness should also be
examined critically for cultural biases.

My use of the term madness may be criticised by those who prefer the terms
“mental illness” and “mental disorder”, but I prefer the directness of the term
madness, which is much older. This is a subject that is in the news at the time
of writing, with the United States president Donald Trump repeatedly claiming
that the media (excluding Rupert Murdoch’s Fox channel) is “loco”. Loco is a
Spanish term for mad or crazy, though loco also means angry, as mad does also
in English. The French use the term folie, which translates as madness (the root
of the English word ‘folly’) and French psychiatry teaches that folie can be
shared between two or more people. The madness of the tarot cards is shared
by many people, though it is true that the delusions inherent in other religions
are shared by more. The madness of Trump is shared by millions, too, and fed
by the madness of Fox News, which is responsible for creating mass delusions
in the USA and, to a lesser degree, in the rest of the world.

According to modern psychiatric theory, schizophrenia presents with so-called


‘positive’ and ‘negative’ symptoms. The positive symptoms are hallucinations
and delusions, while the negative symptoms include loss of motivation,

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‘downward social drift’, emotional flatness and disorganization of thought. It


has been reported that the antipsychotic drugs can worsen the “negative
syndrome” and this is not surprising given the known pharmacological action
of these drugs in blocking dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a
stimulatory neurotransmitter in the basal ganglia, involved in the initiation and
control of movement and the limbic system, involved with emotional reactions.
Blocking dopamine receptors can be expected to hinder movement and flatten
emotional reactions. Indeed, the dopamine-blocking ‘antipsychotics’ cause
drug-induced Parkinsonism from their effects on the basal ganglia and
anhedonia (lack of feelings of pleasure) and emotional flatness from their
effects on the limbic system.

There are also dopamine receptors in neurons of the frontal lobes of the cortex.
The frontal lobes are involved in higher executive functions. These can be
interfered with by dopamine-blocking drugs, and the use of these drugs may
be responsible for cognitive decline, as well as atrophy of the frontal lobes that
has been reported in ‘schizophrenics’. These drugs are certainly responsible for
causing permanent damage to the basal ganglia presenting as Tardive
Dyskinesia (TD), a condition that is caused by these drugs and these drugs
alone. TD is a permanent, incurable syndrome, characterised by involuntary
grimaces of the face and writhing movements of the limbs. It is a disabling,
stigmatising condition that develops from long-term use of dopamine-blocking
drugs.

Dopamine is catalysed into noradrenalin, which also acts as a neurotransmitter


in the brain and nervous system (the sympathetic branch of the autonomic
nervous system). Dopamine was first discovered as a synthetic pharmaceutical
compound many years before it was discovered to be a neurotransmitter in
the brain, and it is known that amphetamines, which were also discovered
more than 100 years ago, stimulate dopamine release. This release has been
found to be mainly in the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain that has
been described as a “pleasure centre”, located anatomically in the basal
ganglia, but functionally included as a limbic system structure these days.

Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior doesn’t mention the nucleus


accumbens in the index or text, though in the chapter on motivation (chapter

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33) it states that “pleasure is an important but poorly understood factor in


motivating behaviour” and that the “mesolimbic dopamine pathways
important for reinforcement are also acted on some drugs of abuse” (p.625).
The preceding chapter, titled Emotional States, authored by Eric Kandel and
Irving Kupfermann is presented as a series of statements that are to be taken
as essential facts by the students. These are presented on the opening page of
chapter 32, and constitute the subheadings under which the text is presented:

A theory of Emotion Must Explain the Relationship of Cognitive and


Physiological States

The Hypothalamus Is a Critical Subcortical Structure in the Regulation of


Emotion

The Autonomic Nervous System Participates in Emotional States

The Hypothalamus Plays a Major Role in Controlling the Output of the


Autonomic Nervous System

The Hypothalamus Controls the Endocrine System

Manifestations of Emotional States Can be Selectively Elicited by


Stimulating the Hypothalamus

The Search for Cortical and Subcortical Representations of Emotions Has Led to
the Amygdala

The Amygdala Is the Part of the Limbic System Most Specifically


Concerned with Emotion

The Basolateral Complex Receives Most Sensory Inputs to the Amygdala

The Central Nucleus of the Amygdala Projects to Cortical Areas


Concerned with the Representation of Emotion.

While it is true that the hypothalamus and amygdalae are involved with
emotions, the amygdalae are involved more with fear and anger than pleasure.
The focus of the text is on what has been revealed by mistreating animals,
where fear and anger are more easily studied. These include the work of
Cannon who mutilated dogs to study the autonomic nervous system and James

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Papez who injected rabies into the brains of cats to establish what has been
called the “Papez Circuit” since the 1930s. Papez and Cannon studied the
‘negative’ emotions of fear, terror, anger and rage in cats and dogs,
extrapolating their findings to humans. Later researcher found, in the 1950s,
that rats with electrodes implanted in their frontal septum repeatedly pressed
a lever to give themselves an electric shock to the brain (this is what is meant
by “stimulating” the hypothalamus). The experimental rats shocked
themselves in preference to feeding and other normal activity, indicating this
area to be a “pleasure centre” – in rats.

The chapter on emotional reactions in Essentials of Neural Science and


Behavior, goes through the theories of various American psychologists and
physiologists, beginning with William James and the James-Lange theory of the
nineteenth century, followed by those of Harvard physiologist Walter Cannon,
who came up with the descriptions of “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” to
sum up the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the
autonomic nervous system, respectively. ‘Fight and flight’, is again a reference
to the emotions of anger and fear.

The pleasure one feels when one listens to a beautiful piece of music cannot
be studied in animals – but nowadays it can be studied scientifically, through
MRI and PET scans. These have confirmed that the nucleus accumbens is an
important pleasure centre in the brain, and is activated by many pleasurable
stimuli, including music. There is also evidence that other neurotransmitters,
especially serotonin, play a role in emotions. There are several references to
serotonin in Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior but no mention of the
pineal or the fact that serotonin is concentrated in this small gland in the
centre of the brain more than anywhere else in the brain, or that it is
converted at night to melatonin which is secreted into the blood and
cerebrospinal fluid and has many known and postulated functions. It is not
mentioned that prior to the discovery of melatonin in 1958, textbooks on the
brain maintained that the pineal had no function in humans and is a vestigial
organ, like the appendix. This is a significant admission, considering what
information is provided about serotonin.

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Resisting Simon and Schuster’s Mass-hypnosis

Simon and Schuster is named after its founders Richard Simon and Max
Schuster, Jewish businessmen who pioneered new ways of selling books to
mass-markets in the USA and then across the world. They were the first to sell
paperback books in drugstores and newsagents, launching a whole new
industry. The company was later bought by Leon Shimkin, who was also a
Jewish businessman. Shimkin joined Simon and Schuster in 1924 and rose
through the ranks to become Chairman of the Board and co-owner with
Richard Simon and Max Schuster.

In their early days, Simon and Schuster’s big seller was Dale Carnegie’s How to
Win Friends and Influence People and other self-help books by Carnegie, sold
as ‘Pocket Books’ at newsstands. One of these was given to me in 1971 as a
school prize by Trinity College in Kandy, Sri Lanka, for the best student in
primary school. Titled How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by
Public Speaking, I have never read it, and did not realise it was published by
Simon and Schuster until I researched the company’s history and found that
they owned Pocket Books. As a child I was more interested in studying
butterflies and birds than trying to influence people through public speaking. I
still am.

Dale Carnagey was a poor farmer’s son who changed the spelling of his
surname to capitalise on the fame of the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, to
whom he was not related. He became a household name after the publication
of his books by Simon and Schuster, and founded his own institute. He gives
sensible, common-sense advice on how to get ahead in the system and was a
popular writer and lecturer in his lifetime. He died of Hodgkin’s Disease (a type
of lymphoma) aged 66 in 1955, but his books are still popular in business
circles.

Carnegie’s initial insight was that people can overcome anxiety about speaking
to audiences by thinking about what makes them angry. He advised them to
get “pumped up” before speaking, in other words. Later he refined the art of
public speaking, giving advice on how to begin and end talks and interviews,
common mistakes and how to succeed in the business world. He uses
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examples of American presidents’ speeches and suggests that dropping Biblical


quotations is handy. His advice is very American and at the age of 11, as a
schoolboy in Sri Lanka, his world would have been completely alien to me,
even if I had the comprehension skills and interest to read it.

When The Mythic Tarot Book was given to me I was a 34-year-old doctor,
working as a family physician in Melbourne. I had little interest in the occult,
but was interested in many of the New Age ideas that I was introduced to at
the time by my friends Sara and Helen, who were in their early 20s. Helen had
done tarot “readings” on Sara and I using The Mythic Tarot Book for
interpretation of the cards that were provided in a package with the books, in
the successful marketing strategy of London-based Ellison Sadd Editions. I was
initially hypnotised by the cards and, projecting my own desires, thought they
were predicting that Sara and I were destined to be together. This turned out
to be prophetic. But that’s just how things turned out, partly as a result of my
sustained efforts. As Sara told me at the time, the cards say whatever you want
them to say. Helen, however, was a true believer in the tarot. It may be
because she was Greek that she held the ancient Greek myths in awe; Sara was
less convinced, but nevertheless fascinated with and excited by the tarot. Part
of the attraction was that it was frowned on by the Church – in Sara’s case the
Catholic Church which had educated her, and in Helen’s case the Greek
Orthodox Church.

Simon and Schuster are experts at mass-hypnosis. This is reflected in the


success of the publication house, which is currently marketing Fear – Trump in
the White House by veteran New York Times journalist Bob Woodward. The
cover and the title are designed to get the attention and it ends with the words
“you are a fucking liar”. This is what, in Woodward’s opinion, Donald Trump’s
lawyer could not get himself to say. The book is number one on the New York
Times bestseller list. The Mythic Tarot Book was also called a “bestseller” in the
1990s.

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Simon and Schuster is now owned by CBS after it acquired Paramount, a major
movie corporation that knows all about mass-hypnosis. Paramount
Communications had been created with a restructuring of Gulf+Western in
1989. From 1984 Simon and Schuster began a period of dramatic expansion
with the acquisition of more than 60 companies, including the academic
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publishers Prentice Hall and Macmillan (in 1994). Essentials of Neural Science
and Behavior is a Prentice Hall International publication, edited by Eric Kandel,
James Schwartz and Thomas Jessell of Columbia University (New York) and the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Howard Hughes was a millionaire film
tycoon and Richard Simon (the founder of Simon and Schuster) was an
alumnus of Columbia University. Essentials of Neural Science and Behavior is
very much a reflection of New York neuroscience and is not holistic. Eric Kandel
went on to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2000 for his discoveries about
the synapses of the giant neurons of the Aplysia sea-slug. His perspective is
reductionist to say the least.

Both The Mythic Tarot Book and Essentials of Neural Science and Behaviour are
intended for mass sales, but to different youth audiences. Essentials of Neural
Science and Behavior is for university undergraduates in the health sciences,
while The Mythic Tarot Book is aimed at young women and men who were
interested in the “occult” and what was prohibited by the Church. It also
targeted New Age enthusiasts more broadly and people interested in fortune
telling and ‘divination’.

The Mythic Tarot Book acknowledges that the tarot was frowned on by the
Church as the work of the Devil. The book is based on a Jungian interpretation
of selected Greek mythology, as interpreted by Americans in the 1990s. It is
packaged for a New Age audience – meaning a young, English-speaking
audience in Western countries, Singapore and Japan. The Western countries
are Australia, Canada, the USA and UK, where the majority religion is
Christianity. They knew full well that both the Catholic and Protestant
Churches disapprove of the tarot cards and other “occult arts”, but they
promoted reading their cards, which they claim have “sacred images” on them,
for self-guidance in important decisions and to understand the mysteries of the
“subconscious”. The Greek myths are venerated as full of hidden wisdom, and
explanations are provided for the “major arcana”, “minor arcana” and suits of
cups, swords, wands and pentacles. It is an induction into what was termed
“witchcraft” in the Middle Ages. It is also an induction into a ritualistic new
religion that precisely creates the beliefs and behaviours that have long been
regarded as symptoms of schizophrenia and mania.

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Consider this introduction to the Knight of Wands:

“Here, in the card of the Knight of Wands, we meet the volatile,


changeable, effervescent dimension of the element of fire, which is
always in motion and perpetually seeking new challenges. This is
embodied in the mythic figure of the hero Bellerophon, who mastered
the wild winged horse Pegasus and killed the monstrous Chimaera, and
then was undone by his own arrogance as he tried to fly to Olympus, the
abode of the gods…”

The book then explains the significance of the “meaning” of the card:

“Bellerophon, the King of Wands, is an image of the craving for new and
ever more glorious adventures. This highly ambivalent figure is both
immensely creative and divorced from reality, for although he is the first
to ‘smell’ new things in the wind and also the first to take up a challenge,
however difficult, he is also our propensity for inflation and kind of
childlike assumption that good luck always ought to be handed out by
life no matter what we are or what we do…”

As with each of the cards, the text continues with an explanation of the
significance of the card in a reading:

“When the Knight of Wands appears in a spread, it is time for the


individual to develop the volatile, exuberant and adventurous qualities
embodied in the figure of Bellerophon. Often on a divinatory level the
Knight of Wands manifests as a change of residence, because the
individual suddenly feels too cramped by his or her environment and
seeks broader and greener pastures. Sometimes the Knight of Wands
will enter one’s life in the form of a charming, exciting and rather
unreliable young man, full of new ideas, who inspires but who must be
taken with the proverbial grain of salt lest he lead one into a bad fall. It
should be seen as an augury that these qualities are trying to emerge
from within oneself.”

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The Mythic Tarot Book can create delusions – highly complex, systematised
delusions, incorporating pseudo-scientific beliefs and what is intended to be a
new religion – the New Age religion, complete with myths and legends, rituals
and “sacred objects” (the tarot cards, which the reader is extolled to treat with
veneration, since they contain “sacred images”).

The images are not sacred in the least. Several are disturbing and the
interpretation of the Greek myths is confused and confusing. There is a card
for “Death”, “The Devil” and “The Hanged Man”, but none for love, life, truth
or God. There are no angels (though alternative ‘Angel Cards’ were also sold in
New Age bookstores at the time), and the entire text is a dubious
interpretation of Greek gods and mythical heroes, including Apollo,
Prometheus, Hades, Hermes, Eros, Psyche, Zeus, Helen and Aphrodite. It is
very much a Western perspective, but a polytheistic one that could create
considerable disharmony in families and communities that have been bought
up to believe that the tarot cards are evil (along with polytheism). If young
people brought up in traditional Christian backgrounds start “dabbling with the
occult” their concerned parents are liable to seek the assistance of priests and
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doctors. The priests pray for their souls, but the doctors diagnose “mental
illness” if they express apparently false ideas that are not considered
consistent with their educational and familial background.

The tarot cards are only one of the occult rituals that was packaged and
marketed in New Age bookshops in the 1990s. There were also books on
witchcraft and casting spells. There were books, too, on telepathy and ESP,
aliens and astrology, crystal healing, channelling and what was loosely called
“alternative medicine” and “holistic health”. The health advice ranged from
sensible advice about positive thinking to charlatans trying to sell a range of
“health supplements”, vitamins and herbs as well as Western “alternative”
treatments supposedly based on ancient Chinese and Indian health models.

I was attracted to the concept of holism as an antidote to the reductionism and


splintering that I experienced in my own education. This meant looking at the
whole person, rather than just the diseased part, as taught by the allopathic
disease model in which I was trained. I later found, however, that many
treatment methods that I did not agree with promoted themselves as ‘holistic’.
The Chinese and Indian models of health are not holistic – they provide
alternative models to diagnose and treat illnesses that developed over
hundreds of years in China and India. These models, like the old theory of the
four elements (five in Chinese medicine) and four humours that held sway in
Europe and the Muslim world for centuries, are not “holistic” or scientific, they
are the alternative paradigms that cannot easily be integrated with the
Western scientific paradigm. That is not to say that they are not effective, but
they are alternative models, rather than holistic models.

There is much to be integrated within the Western paradigm itself. Knowledge


of the brain and nervous system (neurology) has long been splintered within
itself and divorced from knowledge of the mind (psychology). Psychiatry is
partially integrated with psychology and neuropsychology brings together
neurology and psychiatry, but psychiatry is a system of labels of “disorder”
with no cure (but plenty of expensive treatments, some of them very
unpleasant).

The paradigm of psychiatry in both the east and the west is much the same.
Labels like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorder are used all
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over the world, though there are cultural and geographical differences in how
the labels are applied and for what reasons. For example, young people who
talk about “past lives” in the West are liable to be labelled with schizophrenia,
while it is a common and accepted belief in India (and part of the Hindu
religion). The danger of the tarot cards is not so much that they can cause
delusions but how these delusions are explained and treated. The standard
answers of the medical profession are that we “do not know what causes
schizophrenia”, the dopamine theory or a variant of a genetic theory. The
treatment includes locking people up if they don’t agree that they are mentally
ill (termed ‘lack of insight’) and trying to dispel delusions with dopamine-
blocking drugs, which have monstrous side-effects. While these drugs may
have an effect against hallucinations, they are ineffective in curing delusions,
and this is not surprising.

It is obvious that delusions can be caused - the act of deluding someone. The
Mythic Tarot Book is just one source of delusions, but illustrates that delusions
do not appear from nowhere as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain or
bad genetics. They are transmitted culturally and socially, in movies, TV and
radio programs, publications including some by major publication houses like
The Mythic Tarot Book – and by the Internet. Fortunately, though the Internet
can create and feed delusions, it can also cure them if adequate scepticism is
used when researching topics. Madness is being manufactured, but we have
the means to resist it.

Murdoch Markets New Age Madness

The Murdoch empire was also keen to capitalise on the New Age. In the late
1980s they came up with their Aquarian Series, named for the Age of Aquarius,
the astrological age that was celebrated in the hit song of 1969 by The Fifth
Dimension from the musical Hair:

When the moon is in the Seventh House


And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
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Age of Aquarius
Aquarius
Aquarius

Harmony and understanding


Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Harper-Collins Aquarian Series included introductions to graphology,


dowsing, developing ESP, candle-burning, invisibility, levitation, astral
projection, astrology, chakras, crystals, the I Ching, dreams, numerology,
palmistry, reincarnation, runes and tarot. These books were inductions into a
New Age Religion that fits the diagnostic criteria for mental illness and
psychosis according to American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the World Health
Organization’s International Classification of Disease (ICD) as well as diagnostic
rating scales such as the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and Positive and
Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).

At the same time that the Aquarian Series was being sold, the DSM IV (1994)
was instructing doctors to diagnose New Age beliefs as mental illness. Harper-
Collins simultaneously marketed numerous popular books about psychiatry,
including books that promoted both the DSM diagnostic system and the drugs
available to treat the increasing range of “mental disorders” named (but not
explained) by the American Psychiatric Association.

Conclusion

Madness and insanity are not terms that are used in psychiatry any more. They
speak instead of mental illness, psychosis, delusions and mental disorders such
as ‘schizophrenia’. It is generally said that the cause of these disorders is
unknown, but it is clear that what we read and believe can produce delusions.

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So can what we watch and listen to. The psychiatry profession and mental
health workers should be more cognisant of this.

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