Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dexter, Religion, and Mental Illness

I am just now catching up with season six of Dexter. On the episode we watched last night, Dexter was astounded to find out this season's killer was motivated by religion. "A killer with faith?!" was his exclamation. I wish T.V. writers would actually research their subjects a little before depicting them; walk into any psych ward and ask some of those folk about their relationship with some kind of God. Religion is a great (and popular) conduit for mental illness.

This complaint is lodged more as a person who works in the human services than it is lodged as an atheist.  I have stated previously that religious people can be perfectly healthy; often more healthy than non-religious people. This complaint is lodged even more as a fan of good T.V. than it is as an atheist or a human service worker. See? It's a trinity complaint. I am the trinity complainer.
Anyway, Dexter is still a great show, and Mos Def did a great job on season 6. Maybe I'll discover the message becomes more balanced towards the end.



Religion doesn't only interact with mental illness in a negative way. In fact, it can often act as a salve. The underlying trope that season 6 of Dexter seems to have bought into is that to engage in socially destructive and deviant behavior has some root in a lack of spiritual mooring. I agree that a person must have more than just a lack of belief in god/gods to guide them in this life, but atheism is far from a corroding influence. In fact for many non-believers--myself included--it is the first step towards a healthy worldview. Atheism can be a great corrective, and there is plenty of evidence out there that atheists care about their communities and families.




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