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Radical ideology shift

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libertygrl
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Posted 06/24/11 - 2:29 PM:
Subject: Radical ideology shift
Came across this article yesterday:

www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/...end.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1

It reminded me of other occasions in which I've read, in the news, of people who suddenly decide upon a radical change in lifestyle in favor of becoming, say, a born again Christian. Radical because they weren't simply suburban housewives or somesuch to begin with, but more like flagrantly promiscuous, rock star, party animal types. Apollonia and Vanity, from Prince's entourage, are two examples that come to mind. Any speculations as to what would cause this kind of a shift?
henry quirk
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Posted 06/24/11 - 5:18 PM:

"Any speculations as to what would cause this kind of a shift?"

One thing comes to mind (and I offer it without an iota of facetiousness): insanity.

A teen -- upheaved by his or her biology -- is expected to shift mood, personality, and interest, almost daily.

An adult ought not suffer from suffer such shifts. When he or she does: insanity (mild or severe is irrelevant).
AKG
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Posted 07/07/11 - 5:32 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
"Any speculations as to what would cause this kind of a shift?"

One thing comes to mind (and I offer it without an iota of facetiousness): insanity.

An adult ought not suffer from suffer such shifts. When he or she does: insanity (mild or severe is irrelevant).


Although insanity is surely one explanation, reading the linked article and the man's own article on WND.com about what changed in him, I don't think insanity explains his "ideology shift" nor many other people's.

Humans have conscious agency. We are able to consciously examine ourselves, our ideas, our world-view, our lives in the context of our personal history and our understanding of the world. We have the ability to then choose to change ourselves and lives in ways that would make us... at least different, hopefully better.

We also have different elemental drives. An impulse to pleasure, an impulse to status & power, an impulse to justice & improve the world, an impulse to spiritual enlightenment/transcendence or deep philosophical understanding. Most people's personality focuses them mostly on one kind of impulse.

My take on the linked story is this: this man's core impulse was the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment but because he was gay, he felt cut off from the only road he knew to pursue that impulse and so instead poured his energy into the gay rights movement. In both his own words and those of his former friends, his homosexuality always had a significant philosophical & theoretical tilt to it.

After a decade, he had reached a point where he felt deeply unfulfilled because he was investing all his life in to what he had come to see as a crusade to justify a hedonistic lifestyle.

Knowing that he needed a change, he turned to Christianity. It seems to have filled that emptiness for him. If he really has managed to suppress his homosexual urges through conscious effort, he may very well be genuinely happier now.

I'd be interested to see were his life goes over the next few decades. Does he stay with his new ideology? Does he revert to homosexuality? Does he convert to another religion?

Another thing that often changes people is what I call "The Profound Idea." I've encountered many people who have been consumed by some profound idea which rings "true" for them. It becomes their favorite cognitive hammer with which everything looks like a nail. When they turn that hammer on themselves, they often radically change.
Thinker13
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Posted 07/08/11 - 1:58 AM:

Great post AKG. I concur with many things you have written. I do feel though, that in spite of 'shifts' in ideaology happening multiple times in the lives of many humans; there is, a certain 'personality-type' a quintessential persona-so-to-say, which is present since their childhood and never changes and is unique for them. A loosely built example will be: To have a look at the photographs of early childhood of a person and then trying to describe his essential traits; without having gotten acquainted with the person at first and then looking at his life trajectory. It should turn out to be that there are certain subtle traits which are not likely to change in spite of any ( many) ideaology shifts!
AKG
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Posted 07/08/11 - 10:32 AM:

Thinker13 wrote:
Great post AKG. I concur with many things you have written. I do feel though, that in spite of 'shifts' in ideaology happening multiple times in the lives of many humans; there is, a certain 'personality-type' a quintessential persona-so-to-say, which is present since their childhood and never changes and is unique for them. A loosely built example will be: To have a look at the photographs of early childhood of a person and then trying to describe his essential traits; without having gotten acquainted with the person at first and then looking at his life trajectory. It should turn out to be that there are certain subtle traits which are not likely to change in spite of any ( many) ideaology shifts!



Excellent point. We base our decisions and behavior upon our habits, knowledge, beliefs, feelings and personality traits. Clearly, some of those are easier to change than others. I agree that short of mental illness or neurological damage our core personality, our 'quintessential persona' as you say, is extremely difficult to change, maybe nearly impossible.

The difficulty for the outside observer lies in figuring out what aspects of a person's words and actions are attributable to which internal mental process. Do they behave in a certain way because of who they quintessentially are or is their behavior due to an arbitrary and ill-considered belief?


libertygrl
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Posted 07/14/11 - 4:39 PM:

AKG wrote:
'd be interested to see were his life goes over the next few decades. Does he stay with his new ideology? Does he revert to homosexuality? Does he convert to another religion?

yes, lots of good points as usual AKG, i'd be interested to know these things as well

AKG wrote:
Another thing that often changes people is what I call "The Profound Idea." I've encountered many people who have been consumed by some profound idea which rings "true" for them. It becomes their favorite cognitive hammer with which everything looks like a nail. When they turn that hammer on themselves, they often radically change.

nicely stated, i've had similar experiences as well thumb up
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