Prophets and Psychopaths

Wall of Cuckoo Clocks - German Cuckoo Clocks N...

There's no shortage of religious cuckoos in the world

The online publication Religious News Service recently noted that the line between divine inspiration and religious insanity is a narrow one. The article quotes professor of psychology of religion Ralph Hood, who said the main difference between a prophet and a psychopath is “whether or not (they) can get followers.” I would qualify Hood’s statement by saying that determinations of divine inspiration and insanity are in the eye of the beholder: to the extent that an observer believes someone’s claims of divine inspiration, the claimant is deemed a prophet; conversely if the claimant’s professions are viewed upon with incredulity, then their visions are labeled as delusional. In other words, it’s a sales job and numbers game for would-be prophets, and one religion’s inspiration will always be another one’s insanity.


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