Conventional thinking subscribes to the idea that some one arrives at their beliefs through a process of experience, deliberation, rationale, and influence, when actually a person is psychologically, even genetically, predisposed to conform to a belief system that caters to and supports their subconscious pathology. If you’re a fundamentalist or radical of any stripe it is neither a rational decision nor the function of an outside (divine) intervention or influence — nor can it be ascribed to the particular persuasiveness of any one doctrine over another. You choose your belief according to your own genealogical and psychological profile. This is what makes it so hard to reason with a fanatic, or, a fundamentalist, because you are not arguing with a typical form of ratiocination. You are confronting someone’s pathology which they are incapable of separating from their perceived reality. If you call a sane person crazy they’ll slough it off, but call an insane person crazy and they’ll react violently in protest. A fanatic or a fundamentalist is impervious to reason because it is not in their psychological best interest.
I read this book in 1986 and it remains the most fascinating examination of the psychological causes of political radicalization, fundamentalism & religious fanaticism. So strange to see us grappling with the causes when this brilliant psychiatrist nailed it 25 years ago. Can you believe this is the most burning issue of our time and the book is out of print?